Posted on

What investigation? N.J. court rules cops don’t even have to say if records exist

Ridgewood _police_theridgewoodblog

file photo by Boyd Loving

By S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media for
on August 31, 2016 at 5:33 PM, updated September 01, 2016 at 8:15 AM

TRENTON — A state appeals court ruled on Wednesday that government officials don’t necessarily have to acknowledge the existence of a record when refusing to release it.

The three-judge panel sided with prosecutors in Bergen County, who responded to a request from a news organization by saying they could “neither confirm nor deny” they had documents related to a possible criminal case.

The court agreed that in some cases, even acknowledging a record exists can divulge sensitive information. The so-called Glomar response, originally invoked by the federal government in a matter of national security, has been finding its way into state courts in recent years, a trend free press advocates have called troubling.

At issue in Wednesday’s decision was a request made by the Community News, a weekly newspaper in northern New Jersey, for records held by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office regarding an individual who had been accused of sexual abuse but never criminally charged.