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 Will Virginia's Unalienable Rights Foundation sue Northampton County

Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]

Virginia's Unalienable Rights Foundation asks Northampton County Attorney if he wants UARF to sue the county every time they violate the Freedom of Information Law or would he prefer to work out the problem.

UARF's president, David Lindsey, sent the following letter to Mr. Jones after Mr. Jones called UARF's Civil Rights case manager complaining about follow up FOIA requests.

Mr. Jones,

Mr. Meyers told me about your call to him in the A.M. on June 10th, 2014. You told Meyers our Freedom of Information Act [VFOIA and/or FOIA] requests appear to be redundant to Northampton County Officials.

While our Freedom of Information Act [VFOIA and/or FOIA] requests may appear to be redundant to Northampton County Officials they are actually a straddled effort to obtain the information requested in the initial FOIA requests.

We have had to do this as when we appear in person in the public record custodian’s office as set out in Virginia code Sec. 2.2-3704.A. and ask to examine the public records UARF’s officials have been turned away and not allowed to examine the records nor at that time are we provided with a response that is in accordance with Virginia Code Section 2.2-3704.B..

And when we are provided with a written reply to the FOIA the reply we have received to the FOIA from Northampton County Officials and your office is lacking by the failure of the responders to comply Virginia Code Section 2.2-3704.B..

To make sure that there is a clear understanding of what the Code requires of Northampton’s officials in their response to a UARF’s FOIAs we include in our FOIAs the required responses that the Code sets out along with court decisions that address a responders obligations in making a response to a FOIA request.

In each and every case thus far, when county officials have responded to an UARF FOIA request, that reply is not responsive nor complies to Virginia law.

You and every County official we have sent a FOIA request to have been provided with a copy of Virginia’s [1] FOIA law, [2] the Virginia Public Records Act (PRA), [3] Virginia Attorney General Opinion 12-052/Bundick, and the case law set out in White Dog Publishing v. Culpeper Bd. of Sup., 272 Va. 377, 634 S.E.2d 334 (2006), all of which you and Northampton County officials continuously ignore.

You asked Meyers if, what you seem to be calling, replications of FOIA are coming about because Robert Meyers, Kenneth Dufty and myself are not in communications with each other. Northampton officials are getting what you are calling redundant FOIAs because we are in communications with each other.

We have communicated with each other that UARF officials are being turned away when they ask for a record as set out in Code Section 2.2-3704A. without the County’s Officials complying with Code section 2.2-3704.B.

And any after-the-fact response county officials make is still not in compliance with the aforesaid code sections.

We had/have a choice, we can file suit at the county official’s first denial of rights given to UARF’s officials by law or go back and ask the county official again for the public records.

There is another element that would sound senseless to a rational person, and that is, perhaps there is a personality conflict between the official responding to the FOIA and the presenter. I can not say if that is the case, only the responder can and I feel rather than ask that question of the responder it is perhaps better to have another person ask for the records.

That is what has been done, we have now asked Mr. Myers to ask for the same information that Mr. Dufty asked for and was not given [and/or found the records to be culled by county officials without the official following the law/authority to cull records as set out in Code Sec. 2.2-3704.B.] and hopefully the response from county officials will to be to comply with the PRA and FOIA laws.

You have first hand experience with this. When we asked you for the Library of Virginia form RM 25 your office was/is required to file your first response was to send UARF a copy of the form Ms. Nunez filled out for the county.

When your inappropriate reply to the UARF FOIA was received we again sent you a request for the same information and included in that follow up request a cite to the code section requiring you file the form and the Bundick AGO that details the requirement of your office having a records officer.

Your response was to file the RM 25 with the LVA and send us a copy and say that you were unaware of the requirement for the past 22 years you have served your county as it Commonwealth Attorney, etc..

This being said, we, in the alternative, could have filed suit upon your inappropriate response. Instead we wrote again and request the same information and provide a few documents with the request and you took the steps to fix a problem. That is as it should be.

We currently have asked the county clerk for documents and access to documents and the response was not in conformity with FOIA as cited herein. We have again asked for the documents rather than file a suit. In addition since the clerk appears to us to be unwilling to follow the law in responding to our FOIA requests, we have directed that request to other county officials in hope they will provide that information.

Mr. Jones, tell UARF what you want it to do, [1] sue the county and your office when you fail at the start to comply with the requirements of FOIA or [2] have UARF address the issues again in an effort to resolve the difficulty and avert a lawsuit and cost to the county?

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Civil  RightsFreedom of Information [Project FOIA]General Counsel and Senior Law FellowsLaw and Order Recipes for SolutionsLetters and RequestPublic  Watch  Dog

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