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Open Government Advocacy Project:
New Jersey cases regarding "prompt" public access to meeting minutes

Issue Detail:

The Sen. Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act (N.J.S.A. 10:4-14) requires public bodies to make their meeting minutes "promptly available." But, what does this mean? Here are the cases that I know about that shed some light on this question. PUBLISHED DECISIONS: Liebskind v. Mayor and Municipal Council of Bayonne, 265 N.J. Super. 389, 394-395 (App. Div. 1993). The Appellate Division did not take issue with the trial court's order that required the Bayonne City Council to make "copies of final meeting minutes . . . available for inspection within two weeks after each meeting and at least three business days before the next meeting." Matawan Regional Teachers Association v. Matawan-Aberdeen Regional Board of Education, 212 N.J.Super. 328 (Law Div. 1986). The court interpreted the statutory requirement of making the minutes available “promptly” in light of the Meetings Act’s policy “favoring public involvement in almost every aspect of government.” Id. at 330. The court held that making minutes promptly available implements the Act’s overall purpose by, among other things, “[p]roviding all persons with the opportunity to take action prior to the next meeting of the public body.” Id. at 331. UNPUBLISHED DECISIONS: 1. O'Shea v. West Milford Township Council, et al, (Passaic County, Docket No. L-2229-04, Passero, A.J.S.C.) Public minutes to be publicly disclosed 48 hours prior to the next meeting. 2. O'Shea and Paff v. Kearny Board of Education, (Hudson County, Docket No. L-856-07. O'Shaughnessy, J.S.C.) Public minutes to be disclosed three business days prior to the next meeting. 3. Kanter v. Mountain Lakes Borough Council (Morris County, Docket No. L-2388-07, Bozonelis, A.J.S.C.) Drafts of public minutes need to be disclosed two business prior to the next meeting. 4. Paff v. Dover Township a/k/a Toms River Township (Ocean County, Docket L-2165.07, Grasso, A.J.S.C. Nonpublic (closed or executive) minutes need to be available for the next council meeting (transcript page 10) but then changed his mind to make it 30 days (page 14). 5. Paff v. Keyport (Monmouth County, Docket No. L-3317-07, Lawson, A.J.S.C.) Nonpublic and public minutes need to be made public either 30 days after a meeting or prior to the next scheduled meeting, whichever comes first (decision page 23). John Paff Somerset, New Jersey Last updated: 06/22/09




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