The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) now has some competition: the Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA).

In In re New Jersey Firemen’s Association, the merits issue of access to government records seemed simple enough. The requestor sought disclosure of redacted “financial relief checks” issued by the New Jersey Fireman’s Association (Association) to one of its members, who remained anonymous as “John Doe.” The requestor’s motive was to “publicize the fact that Doe had been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and consequently resigned from his position” with an award of “hardship benefits” that he did not deserve. The legal basis for disclosure was asserted under OPRA and the common law test, balancing the public and private interests in disclosure.

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