Friday, April 15, 2016

OPRA lawsuit challenges Passaic City's refusal to disclose 2-year-old unapproved meeting minutes.

On April 14, 2016, Libertarians for Transparent Government, a NJ nonprofit corporation (LFTG), filed a lawsuit in Passaic County Superior Court challenging the City of Passaic's refusal to provide any minutes of City Council nonpublic (closed or executive) meetings held in 2015 as well as the minutes from Planning Board public meetings held as early as February 19, 2014 and Zoning Board public meetings held as early as January 17, 2015.  An amended complaint was filed on April 19, 2016.

The basis for the City's denial of the public meeting minutes is that they "have not been approved."  The basis for denial of the Council's closed meeting minutes is that they must "remain exempt from production under such time as there is no longer a need for confidentiality" and that "the City Council has not adopted a Resolution authorizing the release" of those closed minutes.

In its brief, penned by Hackensack attorney CJ Griffin, the Libertarian organization argues that minutes of closed meetings must be promptly produced in redacted form and that unapproved public meeting minutes can simply be stamped "draft" and publicly released.

Assignment Judge Thomas F. Brogan had scheduled a hearing on this matter for June 21, 2016 at 2 p.m.but the hearing was cancelled because the parties settled the case.  The City agreed to produce all the minutes that were requested and to pay LFTG $5,000 in attorney fees.

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