The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed an amicus brief in Digital First Media d/b/a The Trentonian v. Ewing Township, et al., a New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case currently pending before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. The Appellate Division invited an amicus brief from the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, which prompted the Reporters Committee to seek leave to file an amicus brief on behalf of a media coalition in support of disclosure.
Under OPRA, Plaintiff-Appellant The Trentonian requested Use of Force Reports (UFRs) compiled after police used force against minors. Defendants-Respondents argue that such records cannot be disclosed due to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-60, a state statute barring the release of law enforcement records “pertaining” to juveniles. The Trentonian argues that if identifying information relating to the victim is redacted, the UFRs do not pertain to juveniles at all, but rather to police officers. The trial court upheld Ewing Township’s denial of access to the UFRs.
The Reporters Committee’s amicus brief provides additional examples of UFRs and similar records being released pursuant to public records laws, and emphasizes how access to the requested UFRs will allow members of the news media to inform the public about matters of public concern, including the treatment of minors by law enforcement and within the criminal justice system, generally.