Friday, August 26, 2011

NJ Supreme Court Rules Extensive Gov't Ties Renders Nonprofit a "Public Agency"

In a decision earlier this week, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, an unincorporated nonprofit association, is a a "public agency" for purposes of that state's open records laws because of its creation and control by municipal officials.  Reversing two lower court decisions, the Supreme Court found that the New Jersey Open Public Records Act applied to the League's records because the definition of "public agency" under that Act includes an instrumentality created by a combination of political subdivisions, which the League is, and does not require the carrying out of a traditional government function.  The court also concluded that the League's records qualified as government records.  Critical facts included that the League was created pursuant by state statute to serve as an association of municipalities and was controlled by elected or appointed officials from New Jersey's municipalities, all 566 of which are represented by the League.  The court carefully distinguished New Jersey's Open Public Meeting Act, which only applies to "public bodies," the definition of which requires either the performance of a governmental function or authorization to expend public funds.

Coverage:  New Jersey Star-Ledger.


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