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2023 NJ Open Public Records and Public Meetings New

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  2023 NJ Open Public Records and Public Meetings

Current Edition: 2023

Print Edition Commentaries Are Current Through:
252 N.J. 160; 473 N.J. Super. 567; L. 2022 c. 125

"What's New"

Online Edition - via Gann's What's New Feature - is Current Through:

N.J. cases app'd for pub. on December 1, 2023; U.S. Sup Ct cases through 216 L.Ed.2d 1178; N.J. Chap. Laws through L. 2023 c. 130

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Synopsis  arrow
NJ Open Public Records and Public Meetings

Topics to Include
  • Statutory Access
  • Scope of "Government Record"
  • Right to Sue
  • Filing Deadlines
  • Availability of Counsel Fees
  • Common Law Access
  • Meeting Schedules and Agendas
  • Notices
  • Executive Sessions
  • Enforcement

About The Authors  arrow

Nelson Johnson, JSC (Ret'd) & John C. Connell

Nelson Johnson, JSC (Ret'd)

Nelson Johnson, JSC practiced law for 31 years prior to being appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court. While on the bench, Judge Johnson served in the Civil Division for 13 years (2006 through 2018). He presided over more than 200 jury trials and settled hundreds more. During his final five years, he handled multi-county litigation matters involving pharmaceutical claims. Johnson was also the "Mt. Laurel Judge" and the "OPRA Judge" for Vicinage One. While in private practice he was a partner in four law firms: Bertman, Johnson & Sahli; Dilworth Paxson; Sills Cummis; and Johnson & Bertman. He attained an A-V Martindale Hubbell rating. Judge Johnson received his B.A. from St. John's University in 1970 and his J.D. from Villanova Law School in 1974. He served in the N.J. Air National Guard, from 1970-1976. The Judge is a member of the American Bar Association, New Jersey State Bar Association, Atlantic County Bar Association, and Haneman-Perskie Inns of Court.

During the final 20 years of his law practice, Judge Johnson was an attorney for the Atlantic City Press, where he handled numerous claims under the Right to Know Law, the Open Public Records Act, and the Open Public Meetings Act, as well as the defense of libel litigation. He was requested to submit suggestions on the legislation that resulted in the adoption of OPRA. Judge Johnson was the prevailing counsel in South Jersey Pub. v. N.J. Expressway, 124 N.J. 478 (1991), and Convention Center v. South Jersey Pub., 135 N.J. 53 (1994). He also authored the trial court opinions, which remained in force following all appeals, in In re Accutane Litigation, 234 N.J. 340 (2018), and Paff v. Galloway Tp., 229 N.J. 340 (2017).

Judge Johnson is a full-time, nonfiction author and speaks before bar associations, business groups, college students, and library audiences. He is the author of Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City (which inspired the HBO series of the same name); The Northside: African Americans and the Creation of Atlantic City; Battleground New Jersey: Vanderbilt, Hague, and Their Fight for Justice; and Darrow's Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America's Most Famous Trial Lawyer (currently on a path toward film).

Judge Johnson is married to educator Johanna R. Johnson, Ed.D. Together they are the proud parents of Hon. Sarah Beth Johnson, J.S.C., FBI Special Agent Ethan Johnson, and merchandising specialist Emily J. Jokinen. They are also the grandparents of seven special people: Ariana, Anthony, Asher, Ava, Sloane, Johanna, a/k/a "Joey," and Layla.

John C. Connell

John C. Connell is a senior equity partner at Archer & Greiner, P.C., where he has practiced law continuously since 1987. As chair of the firm's Media and Communications Law Group, Mr. Connell has represented local, regional, and national companies in a broad variety of communications law matters. Mr. Connell's work has resulted in State and federal precedential decisions in First Amendment jurisprudence, as well as public records, public access, and related issues. Mr. Connell represented a consortium of media interests during the legislative hearings and negotiations from 2000 to 2002 culminating in the enactment of the Open Public Records Act.

In 2017, Mr. Connell argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, representing Simon Shiao Tam in Matal v. Tam, 198 L. Ed. 2d 366, a First Amendment/trademark case. On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous 8-0 favorable decision in the high-profile case, deeming the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act an unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment.

Mr. Connell's extensive professional involvement includes membership on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on the Rules of Evidence from 2008 to 2017, and the New Jersey Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Public Access to Court Records since 2019. He is a founder and former chair of the Media and Communications Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association and remains a member of the Committee. He is also a member of the First Amendment Committee of the American Bar Association, the New Jersey Media Lawyers Association, the editorial boards of the New Jersey Law Journal and the New Jersey Lawyer Magazine, and New Jersey Editor, Privacy Law Survey, Media Law Resource Center (NYC). Mr. Connell was an adjunct professor at Rowan University School of Communications from 2007 until 2009, teaching communications law.

Mr. Connell holds degrees from Columbia University (A.B. 1976), New York University (M.P.A. 1982), and Rutgers University Law School (J.D. 1986). He served as Law Secretary to the Hon. Thomas F. Shebell, Jr., Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, from 1986 to 1987.

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