The e-mail addresses of citizens who file complaints with the New Jersey Government Records Council are public records and must be released, a county court judge ruled July 17.
The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government sued the Council when it blacked out the e-mail addresses of citizens who had filed complaints. The foundation argued that they were "quasi-judicial" documents. Mercer County Judge Douglas H. Hurd said the unredacted complaints must be released to the public and ordered the Council to do so by Aug. 14.
The Foundation noted the irony that the Council, which was "established to help requestors challenge improper denials of government records, violated the very law it was created to enforce.” The Council in turn argued it was redacting the addresses — while providing the names — to protect the complainants’ privacy. The Foundation said it had typically received the e-mail addresses in the past.