OPRA Law Forecast For 2018: Major Court Opinions And Increased Litigation

The past year saw the largest number of important OPRA legal developments in the history of the statute.  While 2018 is unlikely to produce as many landmark cases as 2017, there will certainly be major court opinions that will have a substantial impact on public bodies. Also, I think this year will produce more OPRA litigation than ever before.

The Supreme Court has two highly significant OPRA cases on its docket that will be decided in 2018:

-Brennan v. Bergen County Prosecutor- The Court will consider whether OPRA compels disclosure of the names and addresses of people who successfully bid at an auction of public property. This will be the first time the Court will address a question that has plagued OPRA custodians and their attorneys since OPRA was enacted–what is the extent of privacy protection that must be afforded to home addresses?

-Paff v. Ocean County Prosecutor- This case also involves a critical privacy issue: do people shown in police dash cam videos have privacy rights? In addition, the Court will decide a key law enforcement record issue: does the criminal investigatory record exemption apply to dash cam video, where the video is made pursuant to an order of a local police chief?

In addition to these Supreme Court cases, I anticipate that a large number of important OPRA opinions will be issued by the Appellate Division and trial courts in 2018. I think this year will involve even more OPRA litigation than in past years, as requestors will seek to test how to interpret the many major court opinions that were issued in 2017. This should result in many issues of first impression being presented to the courts.


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