Friday, November 6, 2009

GRC: Unrelated requests can be on same OPRA form

On November 6, 2009, the Government Records Council (GRC) released its decision in Anonymous v. Long Hill Board of Education (GRC Complaint No. 2008-192). The issue presented was whether the custodian could lawfully require the requestor to submit separate Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request forms for each item requested rather than including multiple requests on a single form.

The GRC held that although there may be some circumstances in which a custodian may require a requestor to submit separate OPRA request forms, such as if the request is extremely voluminous, the requestor in this case sought access to only four records: a meeting agenda; two sets of meeting minutes; and a pupil enrollment report.  Since this was not a voluminous request, the GRC held that the school board's custodian, John Esposito, violated OPRA by requiring the requestor to complete separate request forms for each item requested.  Indeed, the GRC held that the custodian's "practice provides a road block for a requestor to gain access to government records."

The GRC's decision is on-line here.

While the GRC declined to find that the custodian "knowingly and willfully" violated OPRA, it did find that Anonymous was a "prevailing party" under OPRA and ordered the Board of Education to pay Anonymous' lawyer--Walter Luers of Oxford--his attorney fees. 

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