Open Public Records Act Litigation
New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) provides people the right to obtain information from their government. Municipalities, counties, agencies and other branches of the government must allow people access to its information. That access is not unfettered, but it is very wide. While the government responds to many OPRA requests appropriately, that does not always happen. When the government has refused to provide documents in response to an OPRA request, the requester has remedies. The requester can file a complaint with the Open Public Records Council or file a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey.
There are many uses of OPRA requests. Sometimes you are curious as to what is going on. Other times you would like the information to help you with a project. Other times, you are in litigation with the government and you are unable to get the information through the normal discovery process. OPRA can provide access to this information.
I have experience in pursuing OPRA requester remedies. Under the law, if a record is improperly denied by the government, the requester can be entitled to recoup its attorney fees and costs incurred. My most recent cases have resulted in opinions in favor of the release of the requested documents. In one of these, “Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. NJ Department of Environmental Protection”, the Court issued an opinion requiring the Department to release information related to nominees of their Science Advisory Board. The Department had refused to release the information of the nominees and had responded that it would only release the information regarding those individuals who had been selected. The Court’s ruled that the Department wrongfully withheld the information and ordered its release to my client.