Libertarians for Transparent Gov’t v. Cumberland Cty.

The New Jersey Supreme Court gave advocates for transparency in government a huge victory. The Court held that the Open Public Records Act mandates that after the appropriate redactions, the record of a settlement agreement between a government agency and another party should be available to the public. Here, a female inmate at the Cumberland County Jail accused a corrections officer of forcing her to engage in non-consensual sex acts. The corrections officer admitted misconduct and entered into a settlement agreement with the County. He was allowed to retire in good standing and collect a partly reduced pension. When an organization sought a copy of the settlement agreement, the County provided certain details in writing. It stated that the officer had been “charged with a disciplinary infraction and was terminated.” That was not true. The County’s behavior perturbed the Supreme Court. The Court held that settlement agreement is a “government record” and must be produced.

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