Ogden Newspapers, Inc. v. City of Williamstown

In Ogden Newspapers, Inc. v. City of Williamstown, 192 W. Va. 648, 453 S.E.2d 631 (1994), a newspaper made a West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to review a redacted police report concerning two juveniles involved in a gunfight. The Court found that the newspaper was entitled to the redacted report, notwithstanding FOIA's law enforcement investigation exemption, FOIA's exemption for statutorily created disclosure exemptions, and the juvenile confidentiality statute, because the report sought would be redacted. The Court held in Syllabus point 2 that a blanket rule of non-disclosure was permissible if that was the only way to protect the identity of the juveniles involved. However, the Court went on to hold in Syllabus point 2 that: "an incident report should be released to the press with the names of any juveniles (along with any information that could reasonably lead to the discovery of the identity of the juveniles) redacted; redaction offers the least intrusive means of protecting the identity of juveniles, while respecting the right of the public under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, W. Va. Code, 29B-1-1 1977 et seq." Ogden thus recognized that a public body did have a duty to take steps to provide non-exempt information contained in a public record if it could do so while protecting exempt information.