A Charleston attorney predicts the state Supreme Court’s ruling will have a “chilling effect” on West Virginia’s residents seeking public documents through FOIA requests.
The 4-1 ruling, issued April 10, effectively clears the way for government organizations to charge hourly fees to fulfill requests for public documents filed through the Freedom of Information Act.
It began with a $25 hourly fee the City of Nitro started charging business owners Richard and Lorinda Nease for the retrieval of five years’ worth of records as part of a storm drainage dispute. The Neases challenged that fee.
The state’s FOIA law does allow government organizations to establish fees for the “actual cost in making reproductions,” which Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King took to mean the cost of copying the documents. Continue>>>