2006 Code of Virginia § 2.2-3713 - Proceedings for enforcement of chapter

2.2-3713. Proceedings for enforcement of chapter.

A. Any person, including the attorney for the Commonwealth acting in hisofficial or individual capacity, denied the rights and privileges conferredby this chapter may proceed to enforce such rights and privileges by filing apetition for mandamus or injunction, supported by an affidavit showing goodcause, addressed to the general district court or the court of record of thecounty or city from which the public body has been elected or appointed toserve and in which such rights and privileges were so denied. Failure by anyperson to request and receive notice of the time and place of meetings asprovided in 2.2-3707 shall not preclude any person from enforcing his orher rights and privileges conferred by this chapter.

B. Any petition alleging denial of rights and privileges conferred by thischapter by a board, bureau, commission, authority, district or agency of thestate government or by a standing or other committee of the General Assembly,shall be addressed to the general district court or the circuit court of theresidence of the aggrieved party or of the City of Richmond. In any actionbrought before a general district court, a corporate petitioner may appearthrough its officer, director or managing agent without the assistance ofcounsel, notwithstanding any provision of law or Rule of the Supreme Court ofVirginia to the contrary.

C. The petition for mandamus or injunction shall be heard within seven daysof the date when the same is made. However, any petition made outside of theregular terms of the circuit court of a county that is included in a judicialcircuit with another county or counties, the hearing on the petition shall begiven precedence on the docket of such court over all cases that are nototherwise given precedence by law.

D. The petition shall allege with reasonable specificity the circumstances ofthe denial of the rights and privileges conferred by this chapter. A singleinstance of denial of the rights and privileges conferred by this chaptershall be sufficient to invoke the remedies granted herein. If the court findsthe denial to be in violation of the provisions of this chapter, thepetitioner shall be entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorneys' feesfrom the public body if the petitioner substantially prevails on the meritsof the case, unless special circumstances would make an award unjust. Inmaking this determination, a court may consider, among other things, thereliance of a public body on an opinion of the Attorney General or a decisionof a court that substantially supports the public body's position.

E. In any action to enforce the provisions of this chapter, the public bodyshall bear the burden of proof to establish an exemption by a preponderanceof the evidence. Any failure by a public body to follow the proceduresestablished by this chapter shall be presumed to be a violation of thischapter.

(1968, c. 479, 2.1-346; 1976, c. 709; 1978, c. 826; 1989, c. 358; 1990, c.217; 1996, c. 578; 1999, cc. 703, 726; 2001, c. 844.)

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