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Sunday, August 6, 2017

NORTH JERSEY MEDIA GROUP INC., D/B/A THE RECORD VS. STATE OF NEW JERSEY OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR, ET AL. A-3947-14T3/A

 NORTH JERSEY MEDIA GROUP INC., D/B/A THE RECORD VS. 
STATE OF NEW JERSEY OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR, ET AL. 
A-3947-14T3/A-3948-14T3(CONSOLIDATED) 

In this OPRA action, plaintiff appealed the trial court's denial of an order in aid of litigant's rights and the denial of the imposition of a civil penalty, finding N.J.S.A. 47:1A-11 authorizes only the Government Records Council to impose a penalty. The court reversed, holding that N.J.S.A. 47:1A-11 authorizes the Superior Court, and not just the Government Records Council, to impose a civil penalty where it is determined there is a knowing and willful violation of OPRA and access to government records has been unreasonably denied under the circumstance. The court also reversed the denial of plaintiff's request for relief under Rule 1:10-3 because the affidavit describing the search for records in response to the second set of requests violated the case management order, was not based on personal knowledge and could not properly support the court's determination that defendant's search was reasonable.