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May 15, 2014

Re: Recent Appellate Division Decision OPRA and Redactions             

Dear Mayor:

The League would like to make you aware of a recent Appellate Division decision which provides clarity on the issue of redaction. The case, American Civil Liberties Union v. New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and Bruce Solomon, deals with the state’s redaction of information “deemed to be outside the scope of the request” found on a document which admittedly fell within a valid OPRA request. Put another way, the State records custodian fulfilled an OPRA request but redacted some information found within the documents that the custodian believed to be outside of the OPRA request. The information redacted from the document, while not pertain to the records request, did not meet the exemptions under OPRA.  The redaction was not done pursuant to a statutory exception such as attorney client privilege or for documents that are consultative or deliberative. See N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(g). Rather, it was done entirely because information found on a requested document was considered by the records custodian to be “outside the scope of the request.”

The Appellate Division determined that the records custodian had no legal authority to redact this information. The court held that custodians may only redact portions of requested documents that are exempt pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(g).

The League recommends that you discuss this decision with your attorney.

The decision can be found at http://njslom.org/documents/2014_05_13_a3381-12.pdf

If you have any questions, please contact Ed Purcell Esq at epurcell@njslom.org.

Very Truly Yours,

William G. Dressel Jr.
Executive Director

 

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