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CJ Griffin Featured in New Jersey Monitor Article for Representing Rise Against Hate in OPRA Lawsuit

NJ Monitor

CJ Griffin, partner and firector of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C., was quoted in the New Jersey Monitor in an article titled “N.J. Supreme Court to Decide Whether Township Email Lists are Subject to Public Records Law.” The article discusses the attorneys representing the nonprofit Rise Against Hate and the towns Cherry Hill, West Deptford, and Bridgewater clashed Tuesday over whether sharing subscribers’ email addresses would violate privacy provisions of the state’s Open Public Records Act, and whether releasing them would advance transparency goals.

CJ Griffin, who represents Rise Against Hate, argued that the Legislature has repeatedly taken steps to exempt phone numbers and home addresses from public records, but has not done the same with email addresses. She noted that a 2004 study recommended to the Legislature that email addresses should be confidential, and the body did not take up that recommendation. Rise Against Hate is seeking email distribution lists to share local crime statistics and news on civil rights issues with residents of those towns.

Griffin urged the court to apply the privacy provision of the Open Public Records Act “sparingly.” The privacy provision asks records custodians to determine first whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, and if there is, requires a balancing test to weigh factors like why someone is asking for the record, how personal the details are, whether its release could harm that person, and who it would benefit.

Griffin returned to her argument that not requiring the redaction of email addresses from public documents was a “legislative choice.”

People want to interact with their government, they want to receive information about their government, and that’s what my clients want to send,” Griffin said, adding that “there will be many people that are happy to receive it. Others might hit the unsubscribe button.”

To read the full article, click here.

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