Friday, March 31, 2017

My attorney wins another New Jersey public records lawsuit: Judge rules “any person” can use OPRA

As Sidebar readers may recall, I was the plaintiff in a recent successful public records lawsuit in New Jersey filed by my attorney CJ Griffin.

CJ, who works at the Hackensack law firm Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, today won another court victory that provides citizens greater access to public records under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

In response to my inquiry, below her photo is CJ's description of the case and a copy of the judge's order.

Today the Honorable Bonnie J. Mizdol, assignment judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Bergen County, New Jersey, ruled that OPRA does not contain a citizenship requirement. Instead, she ruled that “any person” can use OPRA. The case is Jeff Carter v. the Borough of Paramus. Mr. Carter told Paramus he was a citizen of NJ, but Paramus insisted that he must turn over his home address or else. When he refused to do so for privacy reasons, they denied his request and then completely ignored his additional requests. The judge ruled that OPRA’s statutory framework made it clear that “any person” can use OPRA because it says so about a dozen times. She also was concerned that a citizen-only requirement would lead to absurd results, such as requestors not being able to remain anonymous (as OPRA permits) and both in-state and out-of-state media not being able to use OPRA (since business entities are not “citizens” of New Jersey, but are “persons”.)

Judge Mizdol joins three other judges who have similarly ruled.

Judge Bonnie J. Mizdol (source)