Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Court rules on OPRA and OPMA case

On October 28, 2009, Camden County Superior Court Judge Louis R. Meloni issued a written opinion in the case of Cassel v. Township of Haddon et al, Docket No. CAM-L-1426-09.  The opinion is on-line here.

The ruling held:

a) It violates the Sen. Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act for a public body to announce a public meeting at 7 p.m. but to actually start it at 6:20 p.m.  But, the violation does not require issuance of an injunction.

b) The municipality's ordinance allowing a $5 charge for a compact disc doesn't trump OPRA's limitation to "actual cost."  Thus, 88c--which was determined to be the "actual cost" is the proper amount for a CD.

c) The municipal lawyer's explanation that he didn't meet with a quorum of municipal council members during private, unadvertised meetings was credible despite the fact that the attorney's billing records showed that such meetings did occur.  Accordingly, the Meetings Act was not violated.

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