Added Penalties for Violations of FOIA

February 22, 2018

SB 630 (Surovell) provides that in addition to any penalties imposed under FOIA, if a court finds that any officer, employee, or member of a public body failed to provide public records to a requester in accordance with the provisions of FOIA because the official intentionally altered or destroyed the records prior to the expiration of the applicable record retention period pursuant to the Virginia Public Records Act, that the court shall impose a civil penalty against the public official in his individual capacity, whether or not a writ of mandamus or injunctive relief is awarded.

In addition, this bill provides that if a court finds that a member of a public body voted to certify a closed meeting and at the time of such certification such certification was not in accordance with the requirements of FOIA, the court may impose on each such member voting to certify in his individual capacity, whether or not a writ of mandamus or injunctive relief is awarded, a civil penalty of $500, which amount shall be paid into the Literary Fund.

VACo opposed this bill, which was recommended to be carried over to 2019 and sent to the FOIA council for further study.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE

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