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COUNTY OF ESSEX OPRA OFFICE
HALL OF RECORDS, ROOM 514-A
465 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. BLVD., NEWARK,
NEW JERSEY 07102

PHONE (973) 621-5241  FAX (973) 621-2599 ** New Fax Number **

Download OPRA REQUEST FORM Rev. 2012
Please note: This form cannot be saved. Preferred print size is on Legal (8.5x14) paper.
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Access to Public Records
N.J.S.A 47:1A-5
Government Records Council

ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS

1. State Law requires that requests for access to public records be in writing. You must complete, sign and date the OPRA request form and deliver it in person, by mail or electronically during regular business hours to the appropriate custodian of the record requested. Your request is not considered filed until received by the appropriate custodian of the record requested. If you submit the request form to any other officer or employee of the County or affiliated agency, that person does not have the authority to accept your request form and you will be directed to the appropriate custodian.

2. If you submit a request for access to government records to someone other than the appropriate custodian, do not complete the OPRA request form, or attempt to make a request for access by telephone or fax. The Open Public Records Act and its deadlines and remedies will not apply to your request.

3. The fees for photocopying 8"x 11" government records in printed form are listed on the front of the OPRA request form. You will be notified of any special charges or other additional charges authorized by State law or regulation before processing your request. Payment shall be made by cash, certified check or money order payable to the "County of Essex".

Special Service Charges: Whenever the nature, format, manner or collation, or volume of the records requested for inspection, examination, or copying involves an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort or cannot be reproduced by ordinary document copying equipment, the County will charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special service charge based upon its actual costs. Special Service Charges include charges for the County's time in searching for records and supervising document searches, inspections, or examinations. The requester will be allowed one free man hour credited to a search, inspection, or supervision, and will then be notified that the County will charge $25.00 per man hour billed in
six-minute increments for any additional time incurred toward a search, inspection, or examination.

4. Requests with estimated fees exceeding $25.00 must be accompanied by a 50% deposit. Anonymous requests, when permitted, require a deposit of 100% of the estimated fees and costs. All balances are agreed to be paid by the requester in full upon delivery of the records.

5. By State Law, a custodian must deny access to a person who is convicted of an indictable offense in New Jersey, any other state, or the United States, who is seeking government records containing personal information pertaining to the person's victim or the victim's family.

6. By law, the County will notify you that it grants or denies a request for access to government records within seven business days after the custodian of the record requested receives the request, provided that the record is currently available and not in storage or archived. If the record requested is not currently available or is in storage or archived, the custodian will advise you within seven business days when the record can be made available and the estimated cost. You may agree to extend the time for granting or denying your request or making records available.

7. You may be denied access to a government record if you seek privileged or confidential records or your request would substantially disrupt agency operations and the custodian is unable to reach a reasonable solution with you.

8. If the County is unable to comply with your request for access to a government record, the custodian will indicate the reasons for denial on the request form and send you a signed and dated copy.

9. Except as otherwise provided by law or by agreement with the requester, if the custodian of the record requested fails to respond to you within seven business days of receiving a written, signed requested form, the failure to respond will be considered a denial of your request.

10. If your request for access to government records has been denied or unfilled within the time permitted by law, you have a right to challenge the decision denying you access. At your option, you may either institute a proceeding in the Superior Court of New Jersey or file a complaint in writing with the Government Records Council (GRC) located in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. You may contact the GRC by telephone at 866-850-0511.

11. Information provided on the OPRA request may be subject to disclosure under the Open Public Records Act.

12. Inspection Procedures: To maintain the integrity of County records, records may be inspected under the supervision of a designated county representative. Applicants shall not be permitted to carry a briefcase, overcoat, bags, other papers, or similar items into the inspection area; and the applicant is hereby advised that the documents to be reviewed are government records and that N.J.S.A. 2C:21-4 prohibits any person from destroying, removing, concealing, or tampering with any such record and that all records must be returned in the order and condition provided.

13. Public record: The term "public records" includes those records determined to be public in accordance with N.J.S.A. 47:1 A-1. The term does not include employee personnel files, police investigation records, public assistance files or other matters in which there is a right of privacy or confidentiality or which is specifically exempted by law. The term also does not include the following:

a. information which constitutes an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy, such as any records, dates, reports, recommendations or other personal material of any educational, training, social service, medical, health, custodial, child protection, rehabilitation, legal defense, welfare, housing, relocation, insurance and similar program or institution operated by a County body pertaining to any specific individual admitted to or served by such institution or program, including but not limited to information relative to the individual's personal and family circumstances, and any material pertaining to admission, discharge, treatment, progress or condition of all individuals concerned;

b. official information;

c. welfare applications, psychiatric or psychological reports, medical reports, or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court records;

d. water service agreements;

e. claims analysis reports;

f. unapproved meeting minutes;

g. materials reflecting deliberative or policy making processes;

h. pleadings and other records on file with the courts;

i. information which endangers the physical safety of anyone or safety of public property;

j. confidential law enforcement records;

k. rap sheets, criminal case histories, or other criminal information database records or documents that are protected from discovery;

l. disciplinary and investigative reports, including those from informants, which would impede ongoing investigations, create a risk of reprisal, or interfere with the security or operation of the jail;

m. grand jury proceedings which are protected from disclosure;

n. crime victim information; expunged or sealed criminal records;

o. expense allowance records;

p. any record required by law, regulation, or court rule to remain confidential. Records custodians should check with County Counsel before releasing documents (or partially redacted documents) which they believe may not be public records, or which might otherwise contain private, privileged or confidential information.

For further Open Public Record Information and assistance contact: New Jersey Government Records Council, Toll-free help-line: 866-850-0511   

Regular Office: 609-292-6830 / Fax: 609-633-6337 E-Mail: GRC@dca.state.nj.us

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N.J.S.A 47:1A-5 Times during which records may be inspected, examined, copied; access; copy fees.

6. a. The custodian of a government record shall permit the record to be inspected, examined, and copied by any person during regular business hours; or in the case of a municipality having a population of 5,000 or fewer according to the most recent federal decennial census, a board of education having a total district enrollment of 500 or fewer, or a public authority having less than $10 million in assets, during not less than six regular business hours over not less than three business days per week or the entity's regularly-scheduled business hours, whichever is less; unless a government record is exempt from public access by: P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) as amended and supplemented; any other statute; resolution of either or both houses of the Legislature; regulation promulgated under the authority of any statute or Executive Order of the Governor; Executive Order of the Governor; Rules of Court; any federal law; federal regulation; or federal order. Prior to allowing access to any government record, the custodian thereof shall redact from that record any information which discloses the social security number, credit card number, unlisted telephone number, or driver license number of any person; except for use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcement agency, in carrying out its functions, or any private person or entity acting on behalf thereof, or any private person or entity seeking to enforce payment of court-ordered child support; except with respect to the disclosure of driver information by the Division of Motor Vehicles as permitted by section 2 of P.L.1997, c.188 (C.39:2-3.4); and except that a social security number contained in a record required by law to be made, maintained or kept on file by a public agency shall be disclosed when access to the document or disclosure of that information is not otherwise prohibited by State or federal law, regulation or order or by State statute, resolution of either or both houses of the Legislature, Executive Order of the Governor, rule of court or regulation promulgated under the authority of any statute or executive order of the Governor.  Except where an agency can demonstrate an emergent need, a regulation that limits access to government records shall not be retroactive in effect or applied to deny a request for access to a government record that is pending before the agency, the council or a court at the time of the adoption of the regulation.

b. A copy or copies of a government record may be purchased by any person upon payment of the fee prescribed by law or regulation, or if a fee is not prescribed by law or regulation, upon payment of the actual cost of duplicating the record.   Except as otherwise provided by law or regulation, the fee assessed for the duplication of a government record embodied in the form of printed matter shall not exceed the following: Letter size documents, $0.05 per page; Legal size documents, $0.07 per page.; all pages over twenty, $0.25 per page. The actual cost of duplicating the record shall be the cost of materials and supplies used to make a copy of the record, but shall not include the cost of labor or other overhead expenses associated with making the copy except as provided for in subsection c. of this section.  If a public agency can demonstrate that its actual costs for duplication of a government record exceed the foregoing rates, the public agency shall be permitted to charge the actual cost of duplicating the record.


c. Whenever the nature, format, manner of collation, or volume of a government record embodied in the form of printed matter to be inspected, examined, or copied pursuant to this section is such that the record cannot be reproduced by ordinary document copying equipment in ordinary business size or involves an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort to accommodate the request, the public agency may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplicating the record, a special service charge that shall be reasonable and shall be based upon the actual direct cost of providing the copy or copies; provided, however, that in the case of a municipality, rates for the duplication of particular records when the actual cost of copying exceeds the foregoing rates shall be established in advance by ordinance.  The requestor shall have the opportunity to review and object to the charge prior to it being incurred.

d. A custodian shall permit access to a government record and provide a copy thereof in the medium requested if the public agency maintains the record in that medium.  If the public agency does not maintain the record in the medium requested, the custodian shall either convert the record to the medium requested or provide a copy in some other meaningful medium.  If a request is for a record: (1) in a medium not routinely used by the agency; (2) not routinely developed or maintained by an agency; or (3) requiring a substantial amount of manipulation or programming of information technology, the agency may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special charge that shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost for any extensive use of information technology, or for the labor cost of personnel providing the service, that is actually incurred by the agency or attributable to the agency for the programming, clerical, and supervisory assistance required, or both.

e. Immediate access ordinarily shall be granted to budgets, bills, vouchers, contracts, including collective negotiations agreements and individual employment contracts, and public employee salary and overtime information.

f. The custodian of a public agency shall adopt a form for the use of any person who requests access to a government record held or controlled by the public agency.  The form shall provide space for the name, address, and phone number of the requestor and a brief description of the government record sought.  The form shall include space for the custodian to indicate which record will be made available, when the record will be available, and the fees to be charged.  The form shall also include the following: (1) specific directions and procedures for requesting a record; (2) a statement as to whether prepayment of fees or a deposit is required; (3) the time period within which the public agency is required by P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) as amended and supplemented, to make the record available; (4) a statement of the requestor's right to challenge a decision by the public agency to deny access and the procedure for filing an appeal; (5) space for the custodian to list reasons if a request is denied in whole or in part; (6) space for the requestor to sign and date the form; (7) space for the custodian to sign and date the form if the request is fulfilled or denied.  The custodian may require a deposit against costs for reproducing documents sought through an anonymous request whenever the custodian anticipates that the information thus requested will cost in excess of $5 to reproduce.

g. A request for access to a government record shall be in writing and hand-delivered, mailed, transmitted electronically, or otherwise conveyed to the appropriate custodian.  A custodian shall promptly comply with a request to inspect, examine, copy, or provide a copy of a government record.  If the custodian is unable to comply with a request for access, the custodian shall indicate the specific basis therefor on the request form and promptly return it to the requestor.  The custodian shall sign and date the form and provide the requestor with a copy thereof.  If the custodian of a government record asserts that part of a particular record is exempt from public access pursuant to P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) as amended and supplemented, the custodian shall delete or excise from a copy of the record that portion which the custodian asserts is exempt from access and shall promptly permit access to the remainder of the record.  If the government record requested is temporarily unavailable because it is in use or in storage, the custodian shall so advise the requestor and shall make arrangements to promptly make available a copy of the record.  If 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.

h. Any officer or employee of a public agency who receives a request for access to a government record shall forward the request to the custodian of the record or direct the requestor to the custodian of the record.

i. Unless a shorter time period is otherwise provided by statute, regulation, or executive order, a custodian of a government record shall grant access to a government record or deny a request for access to a government record as soon as possible, but not later than seven business days after receiving the request, provided that the record is currently available and not in storage or archived.  In the event a custodian fails to respond within seven business days after receiving a request, the failure to respond shall be deemed a denial of the request, unless the requestor has elected not to provide a name, address or telephone number, or other means of contacting the requestor.  If the requestor has elected not to provide a name, address, or telephone number, or other means of contacting the requestor, the custodian shall not be required to respond until the requestor reappears before the custodian seeking a response to the original request.  If the government record is in storage or archived, the requestor shall be so advised within seven business days after the custodian receives the request.  The requestor shall be advised by the custodian when the record can be made available.  If the record is not made available by that time, access shall be deemed denied.

j. A custodian shall post prominently in public view in the part or parts of the office or offices of the custodian that are open to or frequented by the public a statement that sets forth in clear, concise and specific terms the right to appeal a denial of, or failure to provide, access to a government record by any person for inspection, examination, or copying or for purchase of copies thereof and the procedure by which an appeal may be filed.

k. The files maintained by the Office of the Public Defender that relate to the handling of any case shall be considered confidential and shall not be open to inspection by any person unless authorized by law, court order, or the State Public Defender.


L.2001,c.404,s.6.

 

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Government Records Council

If your request for access to government records has been denied or unfilled within the time permitted by law, you have a right to challenge the decision denying you access. At your option, you may either institute a proceeding in the Superior Court of New Jersey or file a complaint in writing with the Government Records Council (GRC) located in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. You may contact the GRC by telephone at  866-850-0511.

For further Open Public Record Information and assistance contact: New Jersey Government Records Council,

Toll-free help-line:
866-850-0511   


Regular Office:
609-292-6830

Fax:
609-633-6337

E-Mail:
GRC@dca.state.nj.us

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