On Demand

Fundamentals of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act


Created on June 11, 2018




All states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia have their own public records law to enable public access to governmental activity. With so much information available, litigators would be wise to take advantage of these sources as another tool for discovery that could bolster their cases either directly or indirectly. Additionally, many public records laws establish independent causes of action against non-compliant public agencies. Therefore, knowing how to use public records laws can be to your client's advantage.

Using the Virginia Freedom of Information Act as the primary example of a public records law, and by referencing other state public records laws including the federal Freedom of Information Act, this presentation will provide a nuts-and-bolts approach to understanding these laws' structural frameworks, their purposes, and practice tips of how to use them. The program, presented by Virginia attorney Timothy Johnson, will also provide samples of public records requests, and discuss typical problems public record requesters run into.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the structural framework of the federal and typical state open public records laws using the Virginia Freedom of Information Act
  2. Explore typical issues of contention concerning what records are subject to disclosure, and to their appropriate extent
  3. Examine the litigation proceedings associated with enforcing the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and other public record laws
  4. Identify how to successfully use public record requests to obtain information in support of your client's case
  5. Develop well-crafted requests that obtain the most relevant information for the least cost to your client

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