Monday, June 29, 2009

Atlantic County Insurer Group issues "OPRA Bulletin."

On June 26, 2009, the Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund Association (ACMJIFA) sent an "OPRA Bulletin" to the clerks of approximately forty member municipalities regarding Mercer County Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg's May 21, 2009 unpublished opinion in Getts v. Mercer County Clerk's Office (Docket No. MER-L-696-07).

(The Getts opinion is here and the clerks who received the Bulletin are identified here.)

As previously reported here, Feinberg held that OPRA requires custodians to charge citizens the ACTUAL COST for photocopying records and that the 75c/50c/25c copying fee schedule merely establishes a MAXIMUM COST for records. In other words, according to Feinberg, if it costs the town a nickle to make a copy, the clerk has to charge requestors a nickle for a copy and it is irrelevant that the OPRA statute sets a maximum charge of seventy-five cents. My original posting on the Getts decision is here.

In its Bulletin, the ACMJIFA said that while Feinberg's opinion is nonbinding, it is "highly likely that this determination will become law." The Bulletin goes on to say that "what that means is that public entities are still permitted to charge the maximum rate permitted by the Statute; however, if and when the law changes, there may be applications for refunds if you in fact charged more than the actual costs."

The Bulletin also advises that when responsive documents are sent to a requestor via e-mail attachments, the ACMJIFA "recommend[s] that there should be no charge. The Bulletin is on-line here.

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