Public Record Requests (FOIA)

THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
A SUMMARY OF THE LAW ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (PUBLIC RECORDS)


INTENT:

The State statute on public records, known as the Freedom of Information Act, was enacted for the express purpose of providing full and complete information to all persons about the workings of government and the acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees, so that the people may be informed and retain control. Its provisions must be liberally construed to carry out that purpose.

SCOPE:

The Act applies to all State, county and municipal officers, governing bodies, agencies, departments, boards and commissions, and any other bodies created or primarily funded by State or local authority, unless their enabling statute specifically exempts them from its provisions. The records covered by the Act include virtually all documents and information retained by a public body, regardless of their form.

Public records are available to every person for inspection or copying when there has been a request made to the custodian, and when they are not specifically exempted from disclosure. There is no statutory requirement that the request be in writing; however whenever possible, a written request is advisable in order to avoid misunderstandings regarding the timing and scope of the request, and to ensure that the information sought is stated "with reasonable specificity," as required by W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(4). The custodian must respond within five (5) working days by either granting the request or giving

written reasons for its denial. Citizens may be charged a reasonable fee for the costs of copying.

EXEMPTIONS:

While the scope of the Act is expansive and its coverage liberally construed, it does provide specific delineated exemptions from disclosure. These exemptions are strictly construed because the intent of the Act is disclosure and anything less than a narrow construction of exemptions would operate to defeat this intent. The exemptions are set forth in W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4(a), at pages 5 through 7 herein.

ENFORCEMENT:

Any person denied the right to inspect a public record of a public body may sue the public body in circuit court for injunctive or declaratory relief under the Freedom of Information Act. The burden is on the public body to prove to the satisfaction of the court that the records sought are exempt from disclosure. If successful, the person bringing the suit may recover his or her attorney fees and court costs from the public body that denied access to the records.

PENALTIES:

Any custodian of a public record who willfully violates the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction may be fined from $100.00 to $500.00 or imprisoned in the county jail for up to ten (10) days, or both.



Other Useful Links:

http://www.legis.state.wv.us/wvcode/code.cfm?chap=29b
http://www.ago.wv.gov/Documents/FOIA%20Handbook%20PDF.pdf

To submit a request for information, please use the following contact information:

Address:

West Virginia State Board of Landscape Architects
522 Ashebrooke Square
Morgantown, WV 26508

Phone:

(855) 226-1273

Fax:

304-594-1482

Email:

michael@biafore.com




Public Record Requests (FOIA)

THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
A SUMMARY OF THE LAW ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (PUBLIC RECORDS)


INTENT:

The State statute on public records, known as the Freedom of Information Act, was enacted for the express purpose of providing full and complete information to all persons about the workings of government and the acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees, so that the people may be informed and retain control. Its provisions must be liberally construed to carry out that purpose.

SCOPE:

The Act applies to all State, county and municipal officers, governing bodies, agencies, departments, boards and commissions, and any other bodies created or primarily funded by State or local authority, unless their enabling statute specifically exempts them from its provisions. The records covered by the Act include virtually all documents and information retained by a public body, regardless of their form.

Public records are available to every person for inspection or copying when there has been a request made to the custodian, and when they are not specifically exempted from disclosure. There is no statutory requirement that the request be in writing; however whenever possible, a written request is advisable in order to avoid misunderstandings regarding the timing and scope of the request, and to ensure that the information sought is stated "with reasonable specificity," as required by W. Va. Code § 29B-1-3(4). The custodian must respond within five (5) working days by either granting the request or giving

written reasons for its denial. Citizens may be charged a reasonable fee for the costs of copying.

EXEMPTIONS:

While the scope of the Act is expansive and its coverage liberally construed, it does provide specific delineated exemptions from disclosure. These exemptions are strictly construed because the intent of the Act is disclosure and anything less than a narrow construction of exemptions would operate to defeat this intent. The exemptions are set forth in W. Va. Code § 29B-1-4(a), at pages 5 through 7 herein.

ENFORCEMENT:

Any person denied the right to inspect a public record of a public body may sue the public body in circuit court for injunctive or declaratory relief under the Freedom of Information Act. The burden is on the public body to prove to the satisfaction of the court that the records sought are exempt from disclosure. If successful, the person bringing the suit may recover his or her attorney fees and court costs from the public body that denied access to the records.

PENALTIES:

Any custodian of a public record who willfully violates the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction may be fined from $100.00 to $500.00 or imprisoned in the county jail for up to ten (10) days, or both.



Other Useful Links:

http://www.legis.state.wv.us/wvcode/code.cfm?chap=29b
http://www.ago.wv.gov/Documents/FOIA%20Handbook%20PDF.pdf

To submit a request for information, please use the following contact information:

Address:

West Virginia State Board of Landscape Architects
522 Ashebrooke Square
Morgantown, WV 26508

Phone:

(855) 226-1273

Fax:

304-594-1482

Email:

michael@biafore.com



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