A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Open Public Records Act

Appellate Division Overturns GRC in OPRA Case Involving Release of Settlement Agreement

By on November 21, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On November 15, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished decision in Scheeler v. Galloway Township regarding an Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) request seeking a settlement agreement between Galloway Township (“Galloway”) and its former manager. In short, the Appellate Division found that the document in question constituted a final settlement agreement subject to disclosure under OPRA contrary to the position of Galloway. On November 12, 2014, Galloway adopted a resolution in public session authorizing the settlement of the litigation between it and the former manager. Specifically, the resolution stated that Galloway’s agreement to settle was subject to […]

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Appellate Division Remands Case on Disclosure of Student Records Under OPRA

By on October 17, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

When is a student record, such as a settlement agreement involving a special education student or a request for an independent special education evaluation, subject to disclosure in response to a request under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”)? According to the Appellate Division’s published decision dated October 16, 2017 in L.R. v. Camden City Public School District, et al., the answer is that disclosure is permitted when the requestor is one of the sixteen (16) authorized organizations, agencies, or persons identified in regulations adopted by the New Jersey Department of Education to implement the New Jersey Pupil Records Act […]

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Appellate Division Finds Willful and Deliberate Violation of OPRA

In recent months, the New Jersey courts have issued several decisions regarding a public entity’s obligations under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). In case you missed them, check out our articles from June 20 and June 27 regarding recent OPRA cases. This week’s article will focus on Gordon v. City of Orange in which the New Jersey Appellate Division on June 23, 2017 reversed and remanded the Government Records Council’s (“GRC”) ruling that the City did not knowingly and willfully violate OPRA by failing to respond to a request for records seeking disability insurance payments made to the City […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules in OPRA Case Involving Email Logs

It’s not very often we hear from our State’s Supreme Court on cases involving the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). On June 20, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Paff v. Galloway Township expanded the scope of OPRA to require public entities to produce information relating to the “sender,” “recipient,” “date,” and “subject” of emails even if that means the agency would need to create a new document. In June 2013, John Paff made an OPRA request under N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. to Galloway Township (“Township”) seeking fields of information from all emails sent by the Township Clerk and […]

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Counsel Fees Denied in OPRA Case for Mootness

On June 14, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Stop & Shop Supermarket Company v. Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders held that a requestor who makes a request for records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) and receives such records prior to initiating formal litigation, even if the response is delayed, is not entitled to attorney’s fees because the issue is considered moot. Stop & Shop Supermarket (“Stop & Shop”) challenged the site plan application of Inserra Supermarkets, Inc. (“Inserra”) before the Bergen County Planning Board and Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders (the “Boards”). On July […]

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Attorney’s Fees Denied in OPRA Case for Failure to Cooperate

On April 24, 2017, the New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County, denied a plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) in the case Grieco v. Borough of Haddon Heights. The Court determined that the public entity inadvertently omitted a record in response to the plaintiff’s OPRA request and that she made no attempt to cooperate with the agency to acquire the missing document prior to initiating a formal lawsuit. Heather Grieco submitted an OPRA request to the Borough of Haddon Heights (“Borough”) seeking notices to newspapers for all council meetings from November 1, 2014 to April […]

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Appellate Division Rules in Favor of Public Entities in Two OPRA Cases Involving Redactions

By on January 24, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On January 13 and 19, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued two unpublished decisions in the favor of public entities regarding redactions made to documents disclosed pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). These cases clarify what information may be redacted from government records when released under OPRA. Public agencies, including school districts and charter schools, must comply with OPRA, which requires disclosure of a government record unless a specific exception applies. An individual who believes that a public agency improperly denied his or her OPRA request may challenge that determination by filing a complaint in Superior Court […]

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OPRA Does Not Require Public Entities to Create Records Not Already in Existence

In a published decision dated April 18, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Paff v. Galloway Township upheld a public entity’s denial of an Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) request for email logs, finding that OPRA creates no obligation on the public entity to create new records that do not already exist. Plaintiff submitted an OPRA request to Galloway Township (“Township”) for an itemized list showing the sender, recipient, date, and subject of all emails sent by the Township’s Clerk and Chief of Police for a certain time period. It is important to note that Plaintiff requested logs of the […]

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OPRA Does Not Authorize Anonymous Filings in Superior Court

By on December 11, 2015 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

In a published decision dated September 17, 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Division in A.A. v. Gramiccioni, et al., 442 N.J. Super. 276 (2015) affirmed the trial court’s determination that, under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”), an individual may not anonymously file a complaint in Superior Court.  OPRA governs the public’s access to government records in New Jersey. Public agencies, including school districts and charter schools, must comply with OPRA, which requires disclosure of a government record unless a specific exception applies. An individual who believes that a public agency improperly denied his or her OPRA request may […]

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