Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dealing with non-specific OPRA denials

Sometimes, particularly with law enforcement records requests, I receive responses that generally deny my request but fail to provide me with a list of the records to which I am being denied.

For example, I recently asked the Camden County Prosecutor's Office for "any police reports, incident reports, witness statements or other writings" that pertained to a specific arrest. The Prosecutor's response was only that the records responsive to my request, if they indeed existed, would be exempt from access.

My reply to the Prosecutor's office is on-line here. I am posting this letter because it may be helpful to others who have encountered similar denials.

The thrust of my letter to the custodian is: a) if I were to file a Denial of Access Complaint with the Government Records Council (GRC), the GRC would require you to identify each record within the scope of my request regardless of whether it is exempt, and b) since I could require you to describe and identify each responsive record simply by filing a (free) GRC complaint, why don't we all save ourselves a lot of time, effort and expense by you simply providing me with the list of responsive records without me having to file a complaint.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

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