On September 16, the News Media Alliance joined the Reporters Committee’s amicus brief arguing for the court to preserve fees shifting provisions for prevailing parties in public records laws. In Gannett v. Township of Neptune, the Asbury Park Press sued the township after they were denied access to internal records about a former police sergeant who murdered his ex-wife with his service revolver. While both the lower court and the appellate court agreed that disclosure of the records was necessary under common law, the appellate court did not award fees. The Reporters Committee argues that the court should award fees for the successful challenge of the records denial. The brief explains “[b]y ensuring that prevailing records requestors can recover attorney’s fees when they successfully vindicate their right to access public records, mandatory fee-shifting eliminates financial disincentives to pursuing public records litigation, and encourages government agencies not to improperly deny or unnecessarily delay making records available to the public.” The Alliance supports open records laws that give journalists and the public access to critical information as well as the fee provisions that appropriately compensate them for improper government denials.
Members of the News/Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.