Sustained Outrage

Supreme Court agrees to hear key FOIA case

The state Supreme Court has voted 5-0 to hear a full appeal of a key Freedom of Information Act case from Jefferson County.

We’ve talked before about The Shepherdstown Observer v. Jennifer Maghan, in which the Observer is trying to force the release of the names of folks who signed a zoning petition. See previous posts, Key FOIA case: Jefferson zoning hits Supreme Court and Wheeling case: Petition drive signatures are public records.

Very important in this case is whether the justices will allow to stand a lower court ruling that would allow state and local agencies to withhold from release any documents submitted to them.

Read the petition for appeal to learn more. Charles Town lawyer Stephen G. Skinner and WVU law professor Pat McGinley, who represent the Observer, explained:

It is simply preposterous to assume that the Legislature intended for the WVFOIA’s definition of “public record” to drastically curtail the scope of public access to important records in government files because they were not “prepared” by a public body.

Such a construction of the statute would devastate the public’s right to information about the conduct of the public’s business.

At the same time, the Supreme Court has declined to reconsider its decision not to force the release of former Justice Spike Maynard’s e-mail exchanges with Massey Energy President Don Blankenship.