Friday, April 15, 2011

Just two OPRA requests per day in Gloucester City

The Clerk of Gloucester City (Camden County) has established a policy of handling only two OPRA requests per business day. According to Acting Clerk Kathleen M. Jentsh's January 7, 2011 letter (see link below), more OPRA requests than that will be considered a per se "substantial disruption" of the Clerk's functions. Such requests will not be considered "received" until all previous requests--at two per day--have been satisfied. For more information, click here.

Original Posting Date: January 10, 2011


Update: January 13, 2011

On January 10, 2011, I informed this forum that the Acting Clerk of Gloucester City (Camden County) had established a policy of handling only two OPRA requests per business day.

I received several responses. Among them was Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Attorney Walter Luers' January 10, 2011 e-mail to Government Records Council (GRC) Executive Director Catherine Starghill asking her to inform Gloucester City Acting Clerk Kathleen M. Jentsch that her policy conflicted with the OPRA.

Mr. Luers shared Ms. Starghill's response with me and informed me that Ms. Starghill consented to its publication. Ms. Starghill's e-mail is set forth below.

Also, I received an e-mail from another correspondent that included an e-mail from Ms. Jentsch. In her e-mail, Ms. Jentsch informed the correspondent that "I have since spoken with the GRC and am no longer limiting to 2 per day."

Accordingly, it appears that Gloucester City has rescinded its OPRA policy.

John Paff
Somerset, New Jersey

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Just two OPRA requests per day in Gloucester City
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 21:41:28 +0000
From: Starghill, Catherine
To: 'Walter Luers'

Mr. Luers,

Thank you for informing me of this matter. I spoke with the Gloucester City Acting Clerk and Town Solicitor this morning regarding their new OPRA policy. Thereafter, my staff sent the Town Solicitor links to the GRC website of published GRC decisions interpreting the "substantial disruption of agency operations" provision in OPRA.

In a very clear manner, I informed them both that the Acting Clerk may not limit the number of OPRA requests received in any given day. Further, I informed the Town Solicitor that the Acting Clerk may request an extension of the statutory response time when any one request legitimately requires more than the statutorily mandated seven (7) business days to fulfill. I gave the following examples of legitimate reasons for an extension of time to provide records under OPRA: (1) records are in storage, (2) records are archived, or (3) the request is so voluminous that additional time to make copies and/or redactions is required.

Finally, I emphasized to the Towns Solicitor the legislative findings that provides that all limitations on access be construed in favor of the public. Both the Acting Clerk and the Town Solicitor appear to understand the GRC's position and appreciate that their policy must be rescinded.

If you have any questions regarding the foregoing, please contact me at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Catherine Starghill, Esq.
Executive Director
State of New Jersey
Government Records Council
tel: 609-292-6830 | fax: 609-633-6337

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