Old Bridge PBA Local 127

Dear Old Bridge Township,

This is a request for public records made under OPRA and the common law right of access. I am not required to fill out an official form. Please acknowledge receipt of this message.
Records requested:

ANY and ALL fax transmission reports aka fax verification reports from 732-607-7957 from the dates of 3-1-2020 to present.

Yours faithfully,

Old Bridge PBA Local 127

Nicole Czerula, Old Bridge Township

1 Attachment

 

The Township of Old Bridge received an Open Public Records Act (OPRA)
request on July 6, 2021.  As such, the seven (7) business day deadline to
respond to your request is July 15, 2021.  The Township is responding to
your request on the sixth business day from the receipt of your request.

 

The request was for:

Any and All fax transmission reports AKA fax verification reports from
732-607-7957 from 3-1-2020 to present.

 

Please be aware that The New Jersey Superior Court has held that “[w]hile
OPRA provides an alternative means of access to government documents not
otherwise exempted from its reach, it is not intended as a research tool
litigants may use to force government officials to identify and siphon
useful information. Rather, OPRA simply operates to make identifiable
government records ‘readily accessible for inspection, copying, or
examination.’ N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.” MAG Entertainment, LLC v. Division of
Alcoholic Beverage Control, 375 N.J. Super. 534, 546 (App. Div. 2005). The
Court further held that “[u]nder OPRA, agencies are required to disclose
only ‘identifiable’ government records not otherwise exempt ... In short,
OPRA does not countenance open-ended searches of an agency's files.” Id.
at 549. “Most significantly, the request failed to identify with any
specificity or particularity the governmental records sought. MAG provided
neither names nor any identifiers other than a broad generic description
of a brand or type of case prosecuted by the agency in the past. Such an
open-ended demand required the Division's records custodian to manually
search through all of the agency's files, analyze, compile and collate the
information contained therein, and identify for MAG the cases relative to
its selective enforcement defense in the OAL litigation. Further, once the
cases were identified, the records custodian would then be required to
evaluate, sort out, and determine the documents to be produced and those
otherwise exempted.” Id. at 549. The Court further held that “[u]nder
OPRA, agencies are required to disclose only ‘identifiable’ government
records not otherwise exempt ... In short, OPRA does not countenance
open-ended searches of an agency's files.” Id.

 

In addition, in Bent v. Stafford Police Department, 381 N.J. Super. 30, 37
(App. Div. 2005), the Superior Court references MAG in that the Court held
that a requestor must specifically describe the document sought because
OPRA operates to make identifiable government records “accessible.” “As
such, a proper request under OPRA must identify with reasonable clarity
those documents that are desired, and a party cannot satisfy this
requirement by simply requesting all of an agency's documents.” Moreover,
in New Jersey Builders Association v. New Jersey Council on Affordable
Housing, 390 N.J. Super. 166, 180 (App. Div. 2007), the Court enumerated
the responsibilities of a custodian and a requestor as follows: “OPRA
identifies the responsibilities of the requestor and the agency relevant
to the prompt access the law is designed to provide. The custodian, who is
the person designated by the director of the agency, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1,
must adopt forms for requests, locate and redact documents, isolate exempt
documents, assess fees and means of production, identify requests that
require "extraordinary expenditure of time and effort" and warrant
assessment of a "service charge," and, when unable to comply with a
request, "indicate the specific basis." N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(a)-(j). The
requestor must pay the costs of reproduction and submit the request with
information that is essential to permit the custodian to comply with its
obligations. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(f), (g), (i). Research is not among the
custodian's responsibilities.” (Emphasis added), Id. at 177. The Court
additionally cited MAG by stating that “…when a request is ‘complex’
because it fails to specifically identify the documents sought, then that
request is not ‘encompassed’ by OPRA…” The Court also quoted N.J.S.A.
47:1A-5.g. in that “‘[i]f a request for access to a government record
would substantially disrupt agency operations, the custodian may deny
access to the record after attempting to reach a reasonable solution with
the requestor that accommodates the interests of the requestor and the
agency.’” The Court further stated that “…the Legislature would not expect
or want courts to require more persuasive proof of the substantiality of a
disruption to agency operations than the agency’s need to…generate new
records…” Accordingly, the test under MAG then, is whether a requested
record is a specifically identifiable government record. Under such
rationale, the GRC has repeatedly found that blanket requests are not
valid OPRA requests. In the matter of Schuler v. Borough of Bloomsbury,
GRC Complaint No. 2007-151 (February 2009), the relevant part of the
Complainant’s request sought: “Item No. 2: From the Borough Engineer’s
files: all engineering documents for all developments or modifications to
Block 25, Lot 28; Block 25, Lot 18; Block 23, Lot 1; Block 23, Lot 1.02.
Item No. 3: From the Borough Engineer’s files: all engineering documents
for all developments or modifications to North St., to the south and east
of Wilson St. Item No. 4: From the Borough Attorney’s files: all documents
related to the development or modification to Block 25, Lot 28; Block 25,
Lot 18; Block 23, Lot 1; Block 23, Lot 1.02. Item No. 5: From the Borough
Attorney’s files: all documents related to the development or modification
to North Street, to the south and east of Wilson St.” In reviewing the
complainant’s request, the Council found that “[b]ecause the Complainant’s
OPRA requests [Items No.] 2-5 are not requests for identifiable government
records, the requests are invalid and the Custodian has not unlawfully
denied access to the requested records pursuant to [MAG] and [Bent].”
Therefore, your request is not valid because it fails to specify
senders/recipients of faxes or other identifiers, fails to identify
specific government records sought, or requires the Custodian to perform
research in order to fulfill the request. See MAG, supra, Bent, supra, NJ
Builders, supra, and Schuler, supra.

 

 

Respectfully,

Office of the Township Clerk

Nicole Czerula

One Old Bridge Plaza

Old Bridge,  NJ 08857

732-721-5600 ext 2205

[email address]

 

If your request for access to a government record has been denied or
unfilled within the seven (7) business days required by law, you have a
right to challenge the decision by the Township of Old Bridge to deny
access. At your option, you may either institute a proceeding in the
Superior Court of New Jersey or file a complaint with the Government
Records Council (GRC) by completing the Denial of Access Complaint Form. 
You may contact the GRC by toll-free telephone at 866-850-0511, by mail at
P.O. Box 819, Trenton, NJ, 08625, by e-mail at [1][email address], or
at their web site at [2]www.state.nj.us/grc. The GRC can also answer other
questions about the law.  All questions regarding complaints filed in
Superior Court should be directed to the Court Clerk in your County.

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.state.nj.us/grc

Old Bridge PBA Local 127

Dear Nicole Czerula,

We do not seek the content of the fax. We seek the phone number the faxes were sent to or the phone n umber the faxes were sent from, as well as the date and time of each fax. Again, we do not seek the content of the faxes.

Yours sincerely,

Old Bridge PBA Local 127