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Newspaper, town settle suit over access to police information

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Newspaper, town settle suit over access to police information11/04/96 NEW JERSEY--In mid-October, a newspaper reporter will receive $10,000 as part…

Newspaper, town settle suit over access to police information

11/04/96

NEW JERSEY–In mid-October, a newspaper reporter will receive $10,000 as part of a settlement with Monroe Township, whose police spokesmen refused to speak to him after he wrote articles critical of the department.

The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought a federal lawsuit on behalf of reporter Michael Moore in federal District Court in Newark, will also receive $25,000 from Monroe township under the settlement.

Moore argued that police officers violated his First Amendment rights while he was working as reporter for The Cranbury Press of Monroe in 1993. After he wrote a three-part series critical of Monroe’s police department, the department’s three media relations officers stopped talking to him and refused to give him information, he argued.

Richard Rafanello, attorney for the township and the police officials, said the defendants settled the case for financial reasons. The township and police officials claimed that although the three officers declined to talk to Moore for personal reasons — they thought his writing was exaggerated and personally did not like him — Moore still had access to public information, they argued.

The settlement was reached just as a trial on the case was scheduled to begin. (Moore v. Township of Monroe; Media Counsel: Lewis Robertson, Little Silver)