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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Gloucester City counterclaims against OPRA requestors

Issue Detail:

I previously posted information regarding the court case of Schmidt and Walters v. City of Gloucester City, et al, Docket No. CAM-L-1287-11, which alleges various violations of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the common law right of access to government records. On April 12, 2011, City of Gloucester City and Acting Clerk Kathy Jentsch filed a counterclaim against Plaintiffs John Schmidt and Michael Walters seeking a court declaration that "the actions of the plaintiffs constitute a substantial disruption under OPRA [and] harassment" and a directive "controlling and regulating plaintiffs [sic] OPRA requests [and] limiting plaintiffs [sic] use of OPRA for legitimate purposes." According to the counterclaim, Schmidt and Walters "between January 1, 2011 and March 1, 2011 . . . filed a total of 154 [OPRA] requests" requiring Acting Clerk Jentsch to "spend close to 26 hours in responding." The counterclaim also alleges that "when it became apparent that the plaintiffs were undertaking a campaign of harassment via OPRA" City officials asked the Government Records Council (GRC) for advice. According to the counterclaim, the GRC told City officials "that there may be some relief provided in the substantial disruption provision of N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5.g" but that "the best option [is] to pursue a harassment complaint . . . in court." The counterclaim is available on-line here. The lawsuit and other other paperwork is on-line here. Alert readers may remember that Clerk Jentsch is the same records custodian who announced in January 2011 that she was only going to accept two OPRA requests per day. See http://njopengovt.blogspot.com/2011/04/just-two-opra-requests-per-day-in.html




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