“Those who enacted OPRA understood that knowledge is power in a democracy, and that without access to information contained in records maintained by public agencies citizens cannot monitor the operation of our government or hold public officials accountable for their actions.” New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Albin, Fair Share Housing Center, Inc. v. N.J. State League of Mun., 270 NJ 489, 502 (2011)
The Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden is dedicated to promoting transparency in government, which leads to greater accountability and, consequently, a decrease in incidences of government corruption, bribery, and other misconduct by public officials and employees. An open, transparent government is critical to our democracy, enabling citizens to make informed decisions when voting, and providing the necessary checks and balances for progress in our society. Through direct representation and amicus curiae support of individuals and organizations seeking information, we are on the cutting edge of defining the public’s right of access to government documents, public meetings, judicial records and proceedings, and information that is otherwise hidden or unavailable. We have filed dozens of Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) lawsuits in the trial courts and argued many OPRA cases in the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Appellate Division, many of which have resulted in published decisions that have received extensive press coverage and accolades from the public.
Our public interest lawyers have represented journalists, media companies, advocacy groups, nonprofit organizations, and others in their efforts to question government agencies and receive responses from officials about significant public issues. We advocate that the public has the right to access print and electronic documents and records of public meetings and judicial proceedings, and to use that information to protect our fellow citizens, keep them informed about the operations of government, and advocate for change.
The Stein Public Interest Center focuses on open government issues related to police transparency, government transparency, access to court records and proceedings, and open public meetings, and is in the forefront of advocating for the public’s right to an open and transparent society.