Governor Must Release RSVP Lists for Town Hall Meetings

Posted in OPRA Cases

On February 4, 2015, CJ Griffin of Pashman Stein secured a victory for Harry Scheeler, a prominent open-government activist, in a case against the Office of the Governor which alleged violations of the Open Public Records Act.

In September, Mr. Scheeler requested RSVP lists from Governor Chris Christie’s “town hall” meetings.  The Governor’s Office denied the request, stating that the lists could not be released based on the privacy provisions of OPRA and Executive Order 26.

Mr. Scheeler filed suit in the Superior Court, alleging an OPRA violation.  After litigation, the Governor’s Office released the RSVP lists with names and addresses of the individuals who attended. However, the Governor’s Office insisted that the email addresses for attendees was protected by OPRA’s privacy provisions and thus produced the RSVP lists in redacted form.

On February 4, 2015, the Honorable Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C., heard oral arguments and ruled in Mr. Scheeler’s favor.  Judge Jacobson found that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy for email addresses supplied to a public agency for the purposes of attending a public event or signing up for up for public mailings.   She ordered the Governor’s Office to release the RSVP lists with the email addresses unredacted by February 20, 2015.  The judge also declared Mr. Scheeler a prevailing party entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.

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