Court’s decision on public records will hurt access

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — When asked to rule in a case regarding access to government records, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals let the public down. In reversing a circuit judge’s decision, the court last week ruled that the city of Nitro and other government agencies have the authority to set an hourly fee for locating documents requested by members of the public.

The reasoning in both the judge’s ruling and the Supreme Court’s decision focused largely on one provision of the state’s Freedom of Information Act. It stated that “The public body may establish fees reasonably calculated to reimburse it for its actual cost in making reproductions of such records.”

To arrive at its decision, a majority of the Supreme Court applied some contradictory logic and declined to acknowledge the impact its decision could have on the public’s access to records….

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