Digital First Media v. Ewing Twp., 462 N.J. Super. 389 (App. Div. 2020)


Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C. served as direct counsel to The Trentonian newspaper in an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit. Pashman Stein partner CJ Griffin filed suit on behalf of The Trentonian against Ewing Township, which had denied The Trentonian’s OPRA request for a redacted use of force report that recorded physical force that police officers used against a 16-year-old. The trial court held that the UFR could not be released even in redacted form due to a statute that exempts certain juvenile delinquency records.

The Appellate Division granted our appeal and in a published decision in February 2020, held that Ewing Township unlawfully denied The Trentonian’s request and ordered the use of force report to be released, with certain redactions to protect the juvenile’s identity. Ewing Township was also required to pay the newspaper’s legal fees. Instead of complying with the order and releasing the report, the Township filed a petition for certification with the New Jersey Supreme Court seeking reversal of the Appellate Division’s order. The New Jersey Supreme Court denied the Township’s petition and Ewing Township subsequently released the redacted UFR.

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