Case Name: Digital First Media v. Township of Readington, et al
Docket Number: HNT-L-427-16
Filing Date: September 30, 2016
Presiding Judge: Yolanda Ciccone
Status: Disclosure stayed pending appeal
The court ruled that Readington Township must provide a newspaper with a patrol car’s dash-cam video of the August 26, 2016 drunk-driving arrest of Scotch Plains Police Officer Stephanie Roggina.
Judge Ciccone noted that there are presently two conflicting, published Appellate Division decisions–North Jersey Media Group, Inc. v. Township of Lyndhurst and John Paff v. Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office–regarding disclosure of police dash-cam videos. When such conflicts exist, court rules allow a judge to decide which decision to follow and Judge Ciccone found that the Paff v. Ocean County case was “in line with the Legislature’s intent in drafting OPRA.”
Ciccone ruled that Readington was not required to pay the the Trentonian’s attorneys fees because “because [Readington’s] refusal to submit the footage was based in reliance on the currently good North Jersey Media Group decision.”
According to plaintiff’s attorney, CJ Griffin of Hackensack, Readington and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office, which was also named as a defendant in the case, appealed Judge Ciccone’s order. The release of the video has been stayed until after the NJ Supreme Court resolves both the North Jersey Media Group, Inc. v. Township of Lyndhurst and Paff v. Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office cases. Griffin said that she cross-appealed from the part of the order that denied attorney’s fees.
Complaint, Exhibits and Brief:
Court Order and Opinion:
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