New Jersey Supreme Court affirms public right to access records on law enforcement misconduct

Doris Zhang  

In back-to-back victories for government transparency and accountability, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued unanimous decisions in March ordering the disclosure of records concerning law enforcement misconduct. 

In both cases, the state Supreme Court referenced arguments the Reporters Committee made in friend-of-the-court briefs urging the court to make the records public. 

The two cases concerned particularly egregious reports of misconduct by law enforcement officers in New Jersey. In the case decided first, Libertarians for Transparent Government v. Cumberland County, the state Supreme Court ordered the release of a settlement agreement reached between Cumberland County and a corrections officer who had been accused of sexually abusing a female detainee, holding that the record was subject to disclosure under the state’s Open Public Records Act. In the second case, Rivera v. Union County Prosecutor’s Office, the court concluded that information from an internal affairs investigation into a police department director’s use of racist and sexist slurs must be released under the common law. 

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