New Jersey Freedom of Information
The Open Public Records Act, or OPRA, is the name of the New Jersey law guaranteeing access to public records in the state. OPRA became the state’s sunshine law on January 8, 2002. OPRA replaced, and improved, a pre-existing right-to-know law. Pursuant to the Act, citizens of New Jersey may request public documents of the state. Moreover, government “records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination by the citizens of this State”. The one exception is convicted criminals seeking information on victims.
Furthermore, the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act regulates how governments hold public meetings. The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states, “the Legislature finds and declares that the right of the public to be present at all meetings of public bodies, and to witness in full detail all phases of the deliberation, policy formulation, and decision making of public bodies, is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process; that secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public’s effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society, and hereby declares it to be the public policy of the State to insure the right of its citizens to have adequate advance notice of and the right to attend all meetings of public bodies at which any business affecting the public is discussed or acted upon in any way except only in those circumstances where otherwise the public interest would be clearly endangered or the personal privacy or guaranteed rights of individuals would be clearly in danger of unwarranted invasion.”