(Credit: John Paff…)
The records at issue are the “RSVP lists” from Governor Chris Christie’s “town hall” meetings. The Governor’s Office denied requestor Harry Scheeler’s request for the lists based on the privacy provisions of OPRA and Executive Order 26. After Scheeler sued, the Governor’s Office released the RSVP lists with names and addresses of the attendees disclosed but with their e-mail addresses redacted. The Governor’s Office posited that the attendees’ email addresses were protected by OPRA’s privacy provisions.
Mercer County Assignment Judge Mary C. Jacobson, after hearing oral argument on February 4, 2015, ruled that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy for email addresses supplied to a public agency for the purposes of attending a public event or signing up for up for public mailings. She ordered the Governor’s Office to release the RSVP lists with the email addresses unredacted by February 20, 2015. She also declared Mr. Scheeler a prevailing party entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.
The case is captioned Scheeler v. State of New Jersey, Office of the Governor, Docket No. MER-L-2327. Scheeler’s attorney was CJ Griffin of Pashman Stein. Judge Jacobson’s ruling was read into the record and her written order is on-line here. This article was developed using information on Ms. Griffin’s blog which is on-line here.