(09/10/2008)
West Virginia's Supreme Court is set to hear a case pitting police officer privacy against the public's right to know.

Oral arguments will be heard later this month over the city of Charleston's refusal to release information regarding problems with police officers, where they essentially double-dipped.

The city refused to release time sheets to the Charleston Gazette, denying a Freedom of Information request made during an ongoing inquiry of the practice.

Four officers ended up being fired for the illegal practice.

The city cited privacy concerns and an ongoing investigation when it denied the newspaper's Freedom of Information Act request for the records in July 2007.

When the Gazette questioned that rationale, the city sought a Kanawha Circuit Court opinion.

That request was denied, prompting the appeal to the high court, which asks the high court to spell out the city's rights and obligations in responding to the request.

A court decision regarding the case could have an effect on other information government agencies have held privy when employees have broken the law and been fired.

The WV State Police have declined to provide public information regarding the firing of troopers, even with indications that criminal acts had been committed, although no charges had been filed.


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