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CJ Griffin Wins Lawsuit Against Attorney General’s Office on Behalf of NorthJersey.com and New Jersey Monitor

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NorthJersey.com
3.21.24

CJ Griffin, Partner and Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C., was recently featured in a NorthJersey.com article titled, “We Sued for Records on NJ Program that Teams Police with Health Experts. See What They Say.” The article highlights CJ’s recent win representing both NorthJersey.com and New Jersey Monitor in an Open Public Records Act lawsuit against the Attorney General’s (AG) Office.

The media outlets sought records that the AG’s Office provided to the Brookings Institute, which then wrote a glowing report about ARRIVE Together—a program that pairs police officers with mental health professionals to respond to crisis calls. After the AG’s Office denied the request, Griffin represented both media companies in a joint lawsuit. The Honorable Robert Lougy, A.J.S.C., ordered the records to be released, with redactions to any identifying information about those who called in crisis.

The Attorney General’s Office fought to keep the documents provided to Brookings out of the hands of the public, arguing as recently as January that it would be “impossible to release any portion” of records “without a significant risk of identification and infringement on the reasonable expectation of privacy of individuals served through the ARRIVE Together program.” 

After the judge ordered the documents’ release, the Attorney General’s Office blacked out about 110 words or phrases to redact names, case numbers and easily recognizable locations. 

“This case proves why fee shifting is so important to enforcement” of New Jersey’s public records law, said CJ Griffin, who argued the case for NorthJersey.com's parent company, Gannett, and States Newsroom, of which New Jersey Monitor is an affiliate. 

“The Attorney General’s Office refused to produce this data, then made us fight them in court as they argued that the reports couldn’t possibly be de-identified, despite [the fact] that they produced it to Brookings in that form,” Griffin said. “Agencies just don’t want to give up records without a fight, and fee shifting makes the fight possible.” 

To read the full NorthJersey.com article, click here.

The lawsuit also enabled reporting by the New Jersey Monitor, which can be viewed here.

Griffin is proud of the results achieved for clients, some of which are noted here.  Of course, each legal matter is unique on many levels, and past successes are not a guarantee of results in any other pending or future matters.

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