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.