Massey files FOIA suit against state Supreme Court

By Cara Bailey | Jul 23, 2008




CHARLESTON - Massey Energy has filed a lawsuit over a Freedom of Information Act request it submitted to the state Supreme Court for Justice Larry Starcher's e-mails.

In the suit, filed July 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Massey claims that Court Administrator Steve Canterbury was wrong in not disclosing e-mails to or from Starcher, his staff, the court's administrative staff and any third parties that refer to Massey or CEO Don Blankenship.

On July 9, Massey send a FOIA request to Canterbury, asking for the communication to or from Starcher. According to the suit, Canterbury denied the request July 15, in a letter that said, "it would (not) be appropriate to comply with your request for the e-mails of Justice Larry Starcher."

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act states "Every person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a public body in this State ..."

"Public body" includes elected state officials, such as Starcher, the suit says.

Canterbury invoked a January memorandum from counsel J. Kirk Brandfass, which stated, "a position can be taken that the provisions of the West Virginia FOIA are not applicable to the Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court."

Massey seeks to have Canterbury's refusal to disclose the records unlawful and an injunctive relief ordering production of the records.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-1401

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