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West Virginia Prisoners Can’t use State FOIA for Discovery in State Habeas Actions

Roger Wyant and Lorenzo Valentine (Prisoners), both West Virginia state prisoners, challenged their criminal convictions through state Habeas Corpus actions. They sued in State Court to compel a county clerk to provide them with court documents relevant to their Habeas actions, Wyant under the state Freedom of Information Act (WVFOIA), W.Va. Code § 29B-1-1 et seq., and Valentine under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FFOIA), 5 USC § 551 et seq. The trial court dismissed, and the Prisoners appealed.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that prisoners challenging their convictions in state Habeas actions could obtain discovery only under W.Va. Post-Conviction Habeas Corpus Proc. R. 7(a). Thus, the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of these actions. See: State ex rel. Wyant and Valentine, 214 W.Va. 434; 589 S.E.2d 812 (2003).

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Related legal case

State ex rel. Wyant and Valentine