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John Paff: Haddon Heights settles OPMA lawsuit

On February 21, 2012, Susan Scoblin-O'Neill settled her pro se Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) lawsuit against Haddon Heights Borough (Camden County).  In exchange for dismissal of her lawsuit, the Borough has agreed, among other things, to ensure that its future closed session resolutions "disclose as much information as possible without harming the public interest or the Borough's interest in keeping the matter private."  The Borough also agreed to reimburse Susan her $260 in out-of-pocket court costs.

The agreement, which is in the form a release, and not an order filed with the court, is on-line athttp://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012068pW//HHSettle.pdf

It is important for citizens to learn how to file OPMA lawsuits.  Since the OPMA does not contain any provision requiring public bodies to pay successful plaintiffs' attorney's fees, most citizens are understandably reluctant to hire lawyers to bring OPMA cases.  Absent a legislative amendment, the OPMA will remain largely unenforced unless citizens file their own lawsuits.  Thanks to Susan for stepping up to the plate.

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Open Government Advocacy Project