Libertarians for Transparent Gov't v. New Jersey State Police, Supreme Court Docket No. 083079


Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C. served as direct counsel to Libertarians for Transparent Government in this Open Public Records Act (OPRA) matter. Plaintiff filed an OPRA request seeking the name, title, and date of separation for a Trooper identified in the 2015 Annual Report of the New Jersey State Police Office of Professional Standards. The report stated that the Trooper “pled guilty to acting in an unofficial capacity to the discredit of the Division while off-duty by having questionable associations, engaging in racially offensive behavior and publicly discussing police patrol procedures. The member was required to forfeit all accrued time and separate from employment with the Division.” The State Police denied the OPRA request.

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit, arguing that OPRA expressly required a public agency to disclose a government employee’s “name, title, position . . .date of separation and the reason therefor,” pursuant to NJSA 47:1A-10. The trial court affirmed the State Police’s denial, ruling that disclosing the Trooper’s name would link him or her to disciplinary information and that disciplinary records are exempt pursuant to OPRA’s personnel records exemption. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s opinion and concluded that the Trooper’s name was not subject to OPRA; however, the New Jersey Supreme Court granted Plaintiff’s Petition for Certification in October 2019.

In June 2020, the Attorney General’s Office reversed its position in this case and disclosed the Trooper’s name to our client, paid the firm’s legal fees, and issued Attorney General Law Enforcement Directives 2020-5 and 2020-6. Those Directives have been described as a “sea change” because they make information about police misconduct public for the first time and specifically require the disclosure of the names of law enforcement officers who receive major discipline.

Our firm is proud of the results it has achieved for clients, some of which are noted here.  Of course, each legal matter is unique on many levels, and past successes are not a guarantee of results in any other pending or future matters.


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