Appellate Court Recognizes Rights of the Poor, Grants Waiver of Filing Fee

by John Paff

On October 6, 2014, the NJ Appellate Division, in an unpublished opinion, reversed the trial court’s refusal to waive the filing fee for an indigent woman who wished to sue her local school board for violating her rights under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  The lower court held that because OPRA allows a successful litigant to recover costs and fees from the government agency sued, there is no need to waive filing fees for such an indigent.  The Appellate Division aptly ruled that “[i]f an indigent person cannot pay the filing fee to start a fee-shifting action, the prospect of having the fee reimbursed in the future is of no value.”