Friday, May 8, 2015

Lakewood ordered to provide detailed description of denied documents.

Robert Lawson
Lakewood Chief of Police
On March 11, 2015, Donald M. Doherty, Jr. filed a lawsuit on my behalf against the Township of Lakewood (Ocean County) seeking records and reports regarding the apparent "drug use" that caused a Lakewood police officer to resign from his position.  Lakewood refused to describe any of the responsive documents that it admittedly possessed.  Rather, it claimed that "the information requested is confidential information under the NJ Attorney General's Guidelines on Internal Affairs and cannot be released."  My lawsuit is on-line here and my earlier blog describing the officer's alleged drug use and subsequent resignation is on-line here.

On March 20, 2015, Ocean County Assignment Judge Vincent J. Grasso asked Lakewood to provide him with a responsive records so that he could look at them in private (i.e. conduct an in camera review).  After reviewing the documents, Judge Grasso submitted a May 6, 2015 order, on-line here, requiring Lakewood to prepare a detailed certification (i.e. a "Vaughn index") that "itemizes each document requested by plaintiff and articulates the specific basis for its denial of each item."  Without such a description, Judge Grasso held, "plaintiff has no information nor opportunity to effectively advocate his position."

Judge Grasso has scheduled a hearing for June 8, 2015 at 9 a.m.





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