Later this month, national media groups will celebrate “Sunshine Week,” to call attention to the need for more openness in our government. Did somebody in West Virginia’s court system declare last week “secrecy week” and just not tell us?
First, there was Monongalia County Circuit Judge Susan Tucker, who sealed the lawsuit filed against West Virginia University and various university officials by former provost Gerald Lang. Lang, of course, resigned from his administrative post last year over his involvement in the decision to award Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter a master’s degree. Tucker later unsealed the lawsuit, but her reasons for initially sealing it remain unclear.
(If that weren’t enough, Halloran’s response after that has been to demand that news reporters who park near the courthouse be ticketed.)
So perhaps a quick review is needed of what West Virginia’s law requires regarding open courts…
First, there’s Article III, Section 17 of the West Virginia Constitution:
The courts of this state shall be open, and every person, for an injury done to him, in his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law; and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.