CJ Griffin Quoted in Two Articles Regarding Lawmakers Seeking Changes in Open Public Records Act
CJ Griffin, Partner and Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C., was quoted by Politico and the New Jersey Monitor in two separate articles about attempts to overhaul the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Lawmakers are proposing restrictions on OPRA which would limit access to government documents and public contracts, remove the right to challenge a denial of access in court, and rescind OPRA’s mandatory fee-shifting provision.
In the Politico article “Democratic Lawmaker Seeks Public Records Law Overhaul”, Griffin spoke on the negative effects that the bills could possibly have on OPRA. “Think of all the landmark cases that made their way to the Supreme Court and have expanded transparency in this State — those won’t happen anymore because the most skilled attorneys won’t be able to take cases on a contingency basis,” Griffin said in a statement.
“Instead, the GRC will be hearing challenges by people acting pro se, fighting against a government agency with unlimited resources and an attorney who knows the law. That’s the opposite of what the original authors of OPRA intended and the after effects will be that the state is far less transparent and more corrupt. The Legislature’s recent hostility toward transparency has become increasingly alarming.”
Speaking to the New Jersey Monitor in an article titled “Lawmakers Prepare Tweaks to Public Records Law That Critics Call an Assault on Public Transparency”, Griffin said that the bill would also remove a mandate for courts to award counsel fees to requestors who successfully sue over a denied records request. Any fees that are awarded would be based on a municipality’s own counsel fees, which are drastically lower than those found in the private sector.
To read the full Politico article, click here.
To read the full New Jersey Monitor article, click here.