Freedom of Information Act; court review in cases of requester harassment. (HB2383)

Introduced By

Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomac)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); court review in cases of requester harassment.  Allows any public body to petition an appropriate court for a summary determination whether a requester, in making a request for records, is intending to harass or otherwise abuse the rights or privileges granted by FOIA or whether such request is overly burdensome on the public body. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/13/2011Presented and ordered printed 11100818D
01/13/2011Referred to Committee on General Laws
01/20/2011Assigned GL sub: #2 FOIA/Procurement
02/03/2011Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
02/08/2011Left in General Laws


marshamaines writes:

This bill serves two purposes: #1)piss off citizens when state employees refuse to SERVE them. #2)protect the ILLEGAL and SECRET behind the clerk desks tamperings of case files and evidence by Va. State Bar Private club members

marshamaines writes:

A review of recently Arrested former Commonwealth Attorney Paul Thomson's actions would apply here, as well as Winchester's Current Indigent Petitioner, Dan Shadwell, in the REFUSAL by the Clerks office to have the Court Reporters Transcripts provided to the Indigent, (as Declared by Court's Order) in order to Perfect his Appeal (a basic Due Process Right).The Clerks' office doesn't "want" to follow the Va Supreme Court rules or Va Codes that mandate they provide the Record, especially when the Record clearly evidences their abuse of authority, local public official corruption, or protection of a judicial Error. SOLUTION: VOTE LAWYERS OUT!

Rickey Moore writes:

"whether such request is overly burdensome on the public body" That part bothers me. Who is to say what is "overly burdensome"? There is a time-limit to "Perfect the Appeal", so someone indigent and locked up is not concerned about overly burdening a state employee, when his/her freedom is at stake. On the surface, this seems wrong.

William H. Turner writes:

The present Freedom of Information Act needs no change that would further hinder a citizen’s often frustrating effort to obtain public information. State agencies are usually reluctant to share any information with a citizen especially when the requested information involves the ethics of the bureaucracy itself.
If one is caught speeding the State Police handles the prosecution.
The sheriff will attend to stealing, fighting etc.
The Game Warden will enforce wildlife laws.
If your dog runs loose or is unlicensed the dog warden will enforce the law.
But if a public body violates the FOIA there is no one to prosecute except the citizen. This entails an expense on the part of the plaintiff which may or may not be reimbursable depending on the mood and knowledge of the judiciary as well as time and inconvenience.
Often the bureaucracy will not answer a request, be vague, give improper answers or otherwise violate the Act. This may require many attempts to obtain information. Is this harassment?
The judiciary often shows indifference because they don’t want a citizen to prosecute their state buddies.
Recently I had to make one hundred and twenty requests to the Department of Environmental Quality because of their determined effort to cover up a false accusation that they made against my company. Finally they admitted in court that they made a “mistake”. The requests would have been one instead of one hundred and twenty if they had admitted their mistake (which was purposeful) in answer to my first request. Yet I am accused of “harassment”.
I suspect that Mr. Lewis “the people’s representative” has been requested to introduce this legislation, which would effectively destroy the Freedom of Information Act, by the Attorney General’s Office which is one of the worst offenders and often protected by the judiciary.
Mr. Lewis’ proposed change in the FOIA is probably directed at me but would have an adverse affect on citizens’ rights throughout the state. Is this the kind of politician that our community needs to represent them?