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Freedom of Information Act Policy


Rights & Responsibilities:

The Rights of Requesters and the Responsibilities of the Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located § 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees. FOIA provides that, with some specific exemptions and exceptions, all meetings of public bodies shall be open to the public and all public records open for public inspection.  All public meetings and records are presumed open unless an exemption is properly invoked.

This office complies with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.  There is no separate policy that addresses FOIA.

A public record is any writing or recording -- regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format -- that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business.  All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.

 

Your FOIA Rights

 

Making a Request for records from the Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office

You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone.  FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA. However, you must provide your name and legal address. It is recommended that prior to submitting a FOIA request for records you should review the remainder of Henry County's website and to use the site's search function. In many instances, the requester may find the information or records that he or she is looking for online.

Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity."  It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that this office can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.

Your request must ask for existing records or documents.  FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of Henry County, nor does it require this office to create a record that does not exist.

If this office has questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request.  Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but this office may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.

 

To request records from Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, you may direct your request to M. Andrew Nester.  He can be reached by mail at: 3160 Kings Mountain Road, Suite D, Martinsville, Virginia 24112, by email at: anester@co.henry.va.us, or by telephone at (276) 634-4500.  You may also contact him with questions you have concerning requesting records from Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.  In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA.  The Council may be contacted by e-mail at foiacouncil@dls.virginia.gov, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or [toll free] 1-866-448-4100.

 

Henry County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office’s Responsibilities in Responding to

Your Request

This office will respond to your request within five working days of receiving it.  "Day One" is considered the day after your request is received.  The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.

The reason behind your request for public records from this office is irrelevant, and you do not have to state why you want the records before responding to your request.

FOIA requires that this office will make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:

If you make a request for a very large number of records, and the records cannot be provided to you within 12 working days without disrupting other organizational responsibilities, this office may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request.  However, this office will make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production of the records before we go to court to ask for more time.

 

Costs

A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.

 

Commonly used exemptions 

The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure.  This office commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions: