Newspaper wins case for disclosure of Bayonne police brutality settlement

The Jersey Journal sued the City of Bayonne and the New Jersey Intergovernmental Insurance Commission (NJIIC) for access to a police brutality settlement agreement that the City claimed was sealed by a federal court. On 3/16/2018, the NJ Supreme Court denied Bayonne’s application for an emergency stay of the trial court’s disclosure order. “Court decision after court decision confirmed that we and the public had – and have – the right to know the contents of this settlement,” wrote the Journal’s editor.

The second article below, which quotes NJFOG officers John Paff and Walter Luers, emphasizes why confidentiality clauses do not belong in settlements involving public agencies. Though the settlements are generally public documents, subject to OPRA, agencies tend to use the confidentiality clause to fight release and to discourage requests for the settlement details. The article lists several examples of settlements — or rather, record requests for those settlements — for which the public agency involved pointed to a confidentiality clause to thwart disclosure.
Why it’s important Jersey Journal won yearlong court battle against Bayonne, insurer | Editorial
March 20, 2018 | The Jersey Journal
Why did Bayonne, insurer fight release of $1.5M legal settlement?
by Terrence T. McDonald
March 23, 2018