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New Jersey Appellate Court ruling: No residency requirement for OPRA

Jeff Voigt Ridgewood Council

May 16, 2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, An Appellate Court ruled today that the right to request records under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) is not limited to New Jersey residents. The ruling upheld a lower court opinion in Burlington County and reversed lower courts in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. The three cases were consolidated for the purpose of the Appellate Court’s review.

An excerpt from the 5/16/2018 Appellate Court opinion:

“We conclude that the reference to “citizens” — found in N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 and nowhere else in OPRA — expresses the Legislature’s general intent to make New Jersey government records open to the public, rather than expressing an intent to limit access to only New Jersey residents or domiciliaries. Because the more specific provisions of OPRA refer to “any person,” and because OPRA is to be construed broadly to achieve the Legislature’s over-arching goal of making public records freely available, we conclude that the right to request records under OPRA is not limited to “citizens” of New Jersey.”

Today’s Appellate Court ruling has statewide application. See NJFOG’s website here for background.

11 thoughts on “New Jersey Appellate Court ruling: No residency requirement for OPRA

  1. So, Councilman Douchebag, people can opra your correspondence from all across the USA, using their own names, using fake names, hell they can even use YOUR name. This is called government transparency. Have you heard of it???

  2. So tired of seeing photos of this douche bag. Has the recall begun? I heard signature petitions are circulating around. Count me in.

  3. Could we possibly stop using that awful word? Find a less disgusting insult, please.

  4. This has been the case for years. As part of my job, I’ve filed OPRA requests with towns across the country. Most all of them have a transparent process (and sometimes a fee) and I’ve never been refused. Mr. Voigt must think he’s very special.

  5. Mr. Voigt is called that disgusting name because he called a citizen that at a council meeting. He is such a classy guy.

  6. If Voigt leaves doesn’t Harwin take his place? She has most votes have the others.

  7. Yes, Mr. Voigt thinks he is very special. My spell check defaults to Vomit when I try to type Voigt. Very fitting.

  8. 12:29 – Dunno – Do we get Hillary if Trump is impeached?

  9. When Voigt gets booted there will be a special election to replace him.

  10. No–not Harwin and not a special election.

    If a council member does not complete his or her four-year term, the four remaining council members may appoint someone to take his or her place. Then, at the next regularly scheduled village council election, the appointed person may run or not.

    This is very unusual but it happened only 8 years ago when Annie Zusy (elected in 2008) died in June 2010 after less than two years in office. The council was entitled to appoint a new council member but decided for various reasons to wait until the general election that November, when the slate of anyone who wished to run for village council (and fulfilled all requirements) could be added to the (already jammed) ballot. That election was expected to attract more voters than the usual village council election because it included President (Obama’s second term) and much more.

    The village council spent the intervening months with four council members. In November 2012, Stephen Wellinghorst was elected to complete Annie’s term, which he began immediately. When Zusy’s four-year term ran out in 2012, Wellinghorst could have run for reelection, but to the surprise of many, he didn’t.

  11. CORRECTION to 2:37 pm comment: the general election was in November 2010, not 2012. It was not the presidential election.

    Here is a CORRECTED post–sorry:

    No–not Harwin and not a special election.

    If a council member does not complete his or her four-year term, the four remaining council members may appoint someone to take his or her place. Then, at the next regularly scheduled village council election, the appointed person may run or not.

    This is very unusual but it happened only 8 years ago when Annie Zusy (elected in 2008) died in June 2010 after less than two years in office. The council was entitled to appoint a new council member but decided for various reasons to wait until the general election that November, when the slate of anyone who wished to run for village council (and fulfilled all requirements) could be added to the (already jammed) ballot. That election was expected to attract more voters than the usual village council election because it included a representative to the House (Garrett was reelected to District 5 by almost 2 to 1) .

    The village council spent the intervening months with four council members. In November 2010, Stephen Wellinghorst was elected to complete Annie’s term, which he began immediately. When Zusy’s four-year term ran out in mid-2012, Wellinghorst could have run for reelection, but to the surprise of many, he didn’t.

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