A recent NJ appeals court ruling undermines the Open Public Records Act, MARC partner Bruce S. Rosen said in an interview with NJTV.
On Aug. 31, 2016, the Appellate Division said the government can deny access to public records by neither confirming nor denying they exist.
The case, North Jersey Media Group v. Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, involved a request for documents about a priest a reporter thought was under investigation but had not been charged.
Rosen said in the Aug. 31 interview that the ruling cuts off access to important information and creates an exemption in the law.
He also said it was a fallacy to conclude that the reputation of an individual who had not been charged would be damaged by release of the documents.
A reporter for North Jersey Media Group filed the request for documents and recordings with Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
The court held that if privacy is a big issue, it will say that privacy can be balanced in the individual's favor.
"It’s an unnecessary narrowing of OPRA, which provides for a presumption of access," Rosen said.
"Someone needs to correct this. I hope it’s the state Supreme Court, but it might have to be the Legislature," he said.
Watch the interview and read the ruling.