Do non-residents of New Jersey have standing under OPRA?

UPDATE (Jan. 2017):  Judge Georgia M. Curio has rejected a motion to reconsider her October 2016 decision, which held that OPRA can be used by all, not just state residents.  Read more HERE.

 

UPDATE (Oct. 13, 2016): Georgia M. Curio, Assignment Judge for the Gloucester /Salem /Cumberland vicinage, has ruled that OPRA can be used by all, not just New Jersey residents. Read more HERE.

 

UPDATE (Aug. 2016): Now the Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland vicinage has been asked to weigh in!  Read more HERE.

 

UPDATE (4/18/2016): An Ocean County Court Judge is the most recent to address the issue of whether a non-resident can make an OPRA request and opined that the Legislature did not intend to limit OPRA’s use to only state residents.  Read more HERE.

 

UPDATE (3/13/2016):   ACLU of New Jersey is appealing a Feb. 19 Atlantic County Superior Court decision upholding Atlantic City School District’s denial of public records to a Washington D.C. advocacy group because the group is based out-of-state.  An Appellate Division decision has statewide application, so this is one to watch!   See our website HERE.

 

Original post:

 

Burlington County Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder ruled last year that you don’t have to live in New Jersey to enforce your rights under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

Cape May County Judge Nelson Johnson recently ruled the opposite way. And interestingly, both cases have the same plaintiff.

According to attorney CJ Griffin, who represented the plaintiff in both cases, Judge Johnson’s current ruling differs from his ruling in another case in 2009 when a requestor argued that limiting OPRA to citizens violated the constitution. Then, Griffin notes, “Judge Johnson ruled there was no constitutional violation because OPRA permits “any person” to use OPRA, not just “citizens.””

Further, the Philly Voice reports that it was an out-of-state resident — a U.S. Senator — who obtained documents and was among the first to expose the Atlantic City corruption that is the subject of Judge Johnson’s book, Boardwalk Empire. So it is ironic that Johnson has now ruled that out-of-staters lack standing under OPRA.

The favorable Burlington County decision is now being appealed.

Stay tuned!

 

 

MEDIA COVERAGE:

 

Our view: Citizens-only one way to discourage abusive public records requests
Press of Atlantic City
EDITORIAL
March 7, 2016

 

Judge: Anyone May Access Records
Cape May County Herald
By Karen Knight
Oct. 21, 2016

 

Judge Won’t Reconsider OPRA Decision, Non-Residents May View Public Records
Cape May County Herald
By Karen Knight
Jan. 19, 2017