Friday, April 29, 2011

How to audit a body for OPMA compliance

I am sometimes asked how I word my OPRA requests to public bodies that I wish to audit for compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act's closed session requirements.

I use the following form of request, since it is informs me of a) how current the body is on making its closed session minutes publicly disclosable, b) the level of detail contained in the body's closed session minutes, c) how closely the topics that the body resolved to discuss in closed session correspond to the topics that the body actually discussed in closed session, and d) the extent to which the body's closed session minutes are "reasonably comprehensible" as required by law.

To: Records Custodian

Please accept this e-mail as my request for government records in accordance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law right of access. Please respond to this inquiry via e-mail or by fax to [Fax No.].

1. The minutes of the [body's] three most recently held non-public (i.e. executive or closed) sessions for which minutes are publicly disclosable either in full or in a redacted version.

2. The resolutions, as required by N.J.S.A. 10:4-13, that authorized each nonpublic session for which minutes were furnished in response to #1 above.

3. The resolutions, as required by N.J.S.A. 10:4-13, that authorized the three most recently held nonpublic sessions, regardless of whether minutes for those closed sessions are publicly disclosable either in full or in a redacted version.

If the resolutions responsive to #2 and #3 above are spread out in full in the public meeting minutes, please send me only the pages that contain the text of the resolutions.

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