Monday, June 15, 2009

GRC: Do you REALLY need these records? If so, be prepared to wait.

Attorney Walter Luers published a June 15, 2009 letter he received from the Government Records Council (GRC) which illustrates the trouble the GRC is having handling cases promptly. The letter, authored by GRC Case Manager John E. Stewart, and from which Luers removed information that identified the complainant, is on-line here.

After noting that the case's most recent manager is "no longer employed by the GRC," Stewart bluntly asks Luers if his client will withdraw the complaint. As Stewart puts it, "the passing of time [might] obviate the need for the requested records." Translation: "We're wondering if the GRC's failure to promptly handle your case has caused you to lose interest in the outcome."

Then, Stewart makes it clear that if Luers' client isn't willing to withdraw, he or she might be in for a long wait. Stewart writes: "As of today, I have about fifty six (56) cases pending adjudication and approximately five (5) cases are cleared each month, so it may take some time before I reach your case." So, it looks like it will take about another year for the case to be adjudicated.

OPRA promises that "government records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination by the citizens of this State." But, if you need to enforce your rights to this "ready" access, you may be better off taking your case to Superior Court and not to the Government Records Council.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

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