Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OPRA plaintiff resorts to writ of execution to get town to pay legal fees.


Typically, public agencies readily pay attorney fees when a court orders them to.  However, in the case of the Town of Harrison (Hudson County), an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) plaintiff applied in 2013 for a writ of execution to compel the Town to pay $55,702.88 in legal fees.

Harrison appealed the trial court's original July 31, 2010 award of $28,951.36 and the Appellate Division, in an August 15, 2012 ruling, see my blog here, affirmed the fee award.  The remainder of the $55,702.88 was for additional fees that accrued, apparently earned by the OPRA plaintiff's attorney attempting to collect the fees that Harrison failed to pay.

According to court documents, on-line here, on July 31, 2010, Superior Court Judge Bernadette DeCastro ordered the Town to pay the $28,951.36 "within 45 days." Judge DeCastro similarly ordered to the Town to pay $14,687 and $9,859 on January 4, 2011 and March 14, 2011 respectively.  Despite DeCastro's orders, Harrison apparently did not pay the fees, thus causing the OPRA plaintiff's lawyer to apply for the writ of execution on March 14, 2013.

I do not know if Harrison has since paid the debt.  I have submitted another OPRA request to find out and will post the results here.

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