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Five point challenge to a Virginia FOIA suit rejected; case moves forward

CHESTERFIELD, Virginia:


A circuit court judge ruled in favor of Ramsingh Legal earlier today, rejecting five different arguments raised by County attorneys on behalf of the Defendants, which include a Chief of Police, a County, and a Police Department. The defendants brought hefty substantive arguments in demurrers and three separate motions to dismiss-- all of which were rejected by the judge after oral argument.


Ramsingh Legal represents Charlotte Carter, a single mom and hardworking nurse who is seeking copies of body camera footage taken in her home. For these records, she was quoted a fee of $24,000.00. Joy Ramsingh has been admitted pro hac vice in Virginia to handle the case on behalf of Ms. Carter.


One critical element of the case is the County's unlawful policy, which requires the County to deny a request anytime they have discretion to do so. This policy effectively reverses the presumption of openness that exists under Virginia's FOIA law. The Court seemed to agree, noting, "On its face the county's policy clashes with the policy of openness under the Act."


A copy of the Court's opinion is available here:


Carter Ruling on Motion to Dismiss
.pdf
Download PDF • 171KB

While there is still plenty of work left to do in this suit, this initial victory helps us set the stage for the remainder of the litigation and ensures that the County is going to have to meet their burden of proof at every point along the way.


The Court's ruling as to the policy could have statewide implications, as many counties appear to use similar "presumption of denial" policies.


Stay tuned for future updates!



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