NJ Supreme Court mulling rule change for litigants who use OPRA

Often when preparing to file a lawsuit against a public agency, a plaintiff submits OPRA requests to gather detail relevant to the case. OPRA research also may continue after the suit is filed and before it is concluded. This is not uncommon.

“I have often made requests after winning an OPRA case, but before attorney fees are awarded, requesting the agency’s lawyer’s bills so that I can see how much time and money the agency spent on the litigation,” notes NJFOG officer John Paff.

The New Jersey Supreme Court is considering a rule change that would require Paff to notify the defendant agency in the above example.  In general, the rule change would require parties to a litigation who are making OPRA requests to obtain documents relevant to the lawsuit to make all other parties aware of the requests. A custodian’s duties would not be affected. The specific proposal appears on pages 35-37 of the Judiciary’s report.