It screams out for public disclosure.
Judge Arthur Recht
In late September, we covered the start of a major Supreme Court appeal of a key issue involving the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The Shepherdstown Observer newspaper wants to know who signed a petition to get a new local zoning ordinance on the ballot for a Nov. 9 special election. County Clerk Jennifer Maghan refused to provide the requested documents, and Circuit Judge David H. Sanders upheld that decision.
Lawyers for the Observer appealed. The state Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will hear the case.
But now, a circuit judge in another West Virginia county has ruled the opposite way, mandating disclosure of similar documents in a similar case.
According to the Wheeling Intelligencer, Ohio Circuit Judge Arthur Recht ordered the signatures of those seeking an election on Wheeling’s two-officer per cruiser ordinance released to the local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.
City lawyers argued that Recht should follow the decision in Jefferson County, but he didn’t seem to interested in doing so:
Any other circuit court decision is not binding. … There are 65 circuit judges in West Virginia. I don’t care what the other 64 are doing – and so that there is no misunderstanding, I’m sure that they don’t care what I’m doing.