Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mercer judge to rule on disclosability of draft settlement agreements and correspondence.

Update 10/22/16:  On October 14, 2016, Judge Jacobson ruled against LFTG and dismissed its complaint. The transcript of the proceedings are on-line here.

Update 01/27/17:  Plaintiff appealed and the opening appeal brief is on-line here.
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On September 6, 2016, I wrote about cases against Caldwell Borough (Essex County) and Jersey City (Hudson County) where courts were asked to determine whether settlement documents traded between the parties to a lawsuit (where one party is a government agency) are subject to disclosure under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).  (The plaintiff, Libertarians for Transparent Government (LFTG), won its case against Caldwell, with Judge Frank Covello ordering Caldwell to pay $5,200 for LFTG's costs and attorney fees.  Judge Daniel D'Alessandro, who is handling the Jersey City matter, heard preliminary arguments on September 30, 2016 and ordered more briefing.)

On October 14, 2016, Mercer County Assignment Judge Mary C. Jacobson will hear another, similar case at 2 p.m. at the New Criminal Courthouse, 400 S. Warren Street in Trenton.  In that case, Libertarians for Transparent Government v. College of New Jersey, Docket No. MER-L-1534-16, Judge Jacobson will determine whether a settlement e-mail exchanged between the College and the attorney for an age discrimination plaintiff was subject to disclosure under the OPRA. (The lawsuit, I later learned, settled for $145,000.)

LTFG is being represented by Richard M. Gutman of Monclair and the hearing is open to the press and the public.  Those who wish to attend are urged to call the court office at 609-571-4499 prior to the hearing to ensure that it hasn't been postponed.

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