A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Appellate Division

Resolution Survives Despite Absence of Advance Public Notice

By on August 14, 2018 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Public bodies have flexibility when an action item presents itself at a meeting where the public was not given advance notice of the matter provided the body is not deceiving the public or intentionally omitting an item it knew would be acted upon. In Jeffrey S. Feld, Esq. v. City of Orange Township et al., the plaintiff alleged that the City of Orange Township violated the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) by passing a resolution settling outstanding water and sewer bills. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the City failed to […]

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Individual Prohibited from Simultaneously Serving on Two Boards of Education

By on June 12, 2018 in Board Members with 0 Comments

In November 2013, Jeffrey Fischer was elected to the Manchester Regional High School Board of Education (“Manchester Board”) for a three-year term expiring in January 2017. He was also elected to the Haledon Board of Education (“Haledon Board”) in November 2015 for a three-year term commencing in January 2016. The Haledon Board serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade and then sends its students to the Manchester Regional School District for high school. On May 30, 2018, the Appellate Division in Fischer v. State of New Jersey confirmed that an individual is prohibited from serving on two boards of education […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules on OPRA’s Privacy Provision

On May 23, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Brennan v. Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, issued an important decision regarding the Open Public Records Act’s (“OPRA”) privacy provisions. Often times, school districts and other public entities deny OPRA requests on the basis that they are protecting the privacy of others. In these situations, the Court clarified that the public entity must first show that disclosure of the records would invade a “person’s reasonable expectation of privacy” before advancing any privacy arguments to withhold the documents. This case involved Plaintiff’s OPRA request to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (“BCPO”) seeking […]

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Use of OPRA Not Limited to Citizens of New Jersey

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. School districts sometimes receive requests for public records from a requestor in another state. Some of these requests come from data mining companies that seek to provide information about school district contracts and vendors to commercial entities. Fulfilling these requests can involve a considerable expenditure of time and effort by the records custodian. Trial court decisions addressing the question of whether an out-of-state requestor may make a valid request for records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) have reached different conclusions. On May 16, 2018, in Scheeler v. Atlantic […]

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Appellate Division Addresses Rights of Part-Time Teachers Under Tenure Act

By on March 6, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Educational service commissions sometimes employ part-time teachers to work in public and non-public schools. The Sussex County Educational Services Commission (“Commission”) reduced the number of hours worked by part-time teachers but did not alter the hourly rate of pay. In Zimmerman et al. v. Sussex County Educational Services Commission two teachers challenged the action arguing that their tenure and seniority rights were violated. The Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) sided with the Commission by determining that the decrease in work hours did not reduce the teachers’ compensation or trigger their seniority rights […]

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Draft Meeting Minutes Not Subject to Disclosure Under OPRA

By on February 20, 2018 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Now and then even the Government Records Council (“GRC”) is sued. In a published decision issued on January 26, 2018 by the New Jersey Appellate Division in Libertarians for Transparent Government v. Government Records Council and Frank Caruso, the plaintiff alleged that the GRC violated the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) and the common law by failing to produce draft minutes of a GRC meeting. Finding that the draft minutes were protected by the deliberative process privilege, the trial court rejected the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the plaintiff […]

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Appellate Division Expands Right to Electronically Stored Information Under OPRA

By on January 23, 2018 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

In June 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Paff v. Galloway Township expanded the scope of the Open Public Records Act (“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. On January 12, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division continued to expand the right to electronically stored information under OPRA in the published decision Conley v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, Docket No. A-4754-14T3. The legal question before the Appellate Division in this case was whether data […]

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OPRA Does Not Require Disclosure of Reasons for Public Employee’s Voluntary Resignation

By on January 11, 2018 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. In a case construing the “personnel records” exception to the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”), the Appellate Division recently held that OPRA does not require disclosure of detailed reasons for a government employee’s resignation, where public records do not contain such information. There are 21 exceptions to the definition of a “government record” under the OPRA statute, few of which are as frequently the source of litigation as the exception for personnel records. This is most likely because there are three exceptions to that exception itself, two of which permit […]

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Appellate Division Finds Parent Liable for Tuition Payment to School District for Lack of Domicile

By on January 5, 2018 in Students with 0 Comments

On December 27, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the Commissioner of Education’s determination in T.L. o/b/o A.B. v. Union Township Board of Education that a parent and her child were not domiciled within the Union Township School District for two school years and therefore her child was not entitled to a free public education in that district. As a result, the parent was ordered to reimburse the Union Township Board of Education (“Board”) for the cost of the child’s education for that time period. The case involved parent T.L. and her child A.B. For the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 […]

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Appellate Division Limits Attorneys’ Fees in OPRA Case

By on December 12, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On November 27, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Kennedy v. Montclair Center Corporation Business Improvement District issued an unpublished decision in which it determined that the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) does not entitle a plaintiff to attorneys’ fees after the public agency satisfied his document request. Scott Kennedy made an OPRA request to the Montclair Center Corporation Business Improvement District (“Montclair Center”). Not having received an adequate response, Kennedy filed suit against the Montclair Center alleging that it had no OPRA custodian, had no OPRA request form, and charged excessive copying costs in violation of OPRA. After […]

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