CJ Griffin, partner and Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in several articles discussing a recent NJ Supreme Court decision, Ernest Bozzi v. City of Jersey City, permitting disclosure under the Open Public Records Act of the names and home addresses of dog owners. Griffin represented amicus curiae Libertarians for Transparent Government in the case.
From the New Jersey Monitor article “Business owner can get names, addresses of dog owners, N.J. top court rules”:
C.J. Griffin, one of the state’s leading open-records advocates, filed a brief in the case on behalf of the Libertarians for Transparent Government.
She pointed out that state legislators have rejected multiple attempts to remove names and home addresses from the public record since OPRA became law in 2002, excluding them in only a few specific circumstances. Names and home addresses excluded from OPRA include those on firearm and hunting licenses, as well as active, formerly active, or retired judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers.
Griffin celebrated Fernandez-Vina’s ruling as an important protection against government officials looking for any excuse to deny the public access to information.
“Home addresses appear in all sorts of public records, like criminal cases, voter registration, and real estate records, and there are legitimate reasons we need access to them,” she said. “My fear was that they would roll that back a bit. Any time a court decides against access, public agencies construe it very broadly and use it expansively for all sorts of things.”
From the New Jersey Law Journal article “Owning a Dog is ‘a Public Endeavor’ and Not Exempt from OPRA Requests, Split NJ High Court Rules”:
“It’s clear this case was really about the desire of public agencies to keep commercial entities from filing OPRA requests,” said CJ Griffin at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, who represented amicus curiae Libertarians for Transparent Government (LFTG), which supported Bozzi’s position. “The League [of Municipalities] and others have tried passing legislation to curb the practice and it has failed, so they wanted the court to provide the relief.”
LFTG contends that even if Jersey City made a colorable claim of privacy, balancing the privacy factors in Doe compels disclosure.
“The data [Bozzi] seeks is and always has been subject to OPRA, and the consequences of creating a test where the reason why someone wants public records is relevant was too great, so I’m glad the court stood by its prior decision on home addresses,” added Griffin.
To view the New Jersey Monitor article, click here.
To view the New Jersey Law Journal article click here.
To view the article that appeared in the Jersey City Times article, click here.