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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Updated x2: Lawsuit Filed Against Galloway Township Clerk for Denying Access to the Chief of Police and Clerks Email Logs

Updated (Nov 4, 2013): The Township appeared in Court on November 1, 2013 to argue an OPRA lawsuit filed by Walter M. Luers Esq., of behalf of John Paff. According to Paff, "at issue in the Galloway case is whether a government agency is required to produce an e-mail log showing the sender, recipient, date and subject line of each e-mail sent by a specific government employee during a specified period of time.  An example of the kind of log I requested, which was generated by Galloway in 2012, is on-line here."

Paff further stated, "while conceding (Township of Galloway) that it previously produced e-mail logs and still has the capability of doing so, Galloway, citing Logue v. Borough of Fieldsboro, GRC Case No. 2008-223, argued that producing a log would require it to create a new record that does not already exist.  Attorney Walter Luers and I argued that since the Township's e-mails are digitally stored on a computer, any report that can be queried from the e-mail system is a public record available under OPRA." 

"Atlantic County Judge Nelson C. Johnson was clearly intrigued by the issue and asked both parties to submit additional briefs.  He is expected to rule on the matter before the end of the year" Paff said.

ORIGINAL STORY:
A Lawsuit has been filed against Galloway Township and Township Clerk Thalia C. Kay in her official capacity as Municipal Clerk and Records Custodian of Galloway Township.  The lawsuit was filed by Walter M. Luers, Esq., on behalf of John Paff. Paff is the chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project.  

The lawsuit filed in Atlantic County Superior Court on August 19, 2013, alleges the Township refused to provide Paff with "copies of emails logs that they are capable of producing and have produced in the past." 

According to the complaint, on June 28, 2013, Paff submitted an Open Public Records Request seeking an email log "that shows e-mails sent by the Township Clerk between June 3, 2013 and June 17, 2013" and "that shows e-mails sent by the Township Police Chief between June 3, 2013 and June 17, 2013." Paff also submitted a copy of an e-mail log previously released by the Township in a previous OPRA Request, showing the documents clearly exist.

On July 8, 2013, Kay denied access to the requested records, stating that "IT is unable to provide logs on email communication." The complaint alleges, "on prior occasions and in response to prior OPRA Requests, Defendants have provided similar e-mail logs and, on information and belief, Defendants continue to be able to provide such logs." 

According to a Letter Brief submitted to the Court by Luers, the defendant flatly disputes that e-mails logs are not able to be provided. "In the event that the Defendants claim that they lack the capability to create email logs, we request a plenary hearing on that issue and an opportunity to subpoena and present the testimony of the employee or employees of Galloway Township who previously created the email logs that were provided to the public as well as testimony of the Township Clerk."

Paff is requesting the Court to order Defendants to release the email logs as requested along with awarding Plaintiff costs and reasonable attorneys' fees; and for such other or further relief as the Court deems just and equitable. 

After reviewing the complaint, GallowayTwpNews.com Publisher  has been a member of the public that has received email logs in response to several OPRA Requests we have filed under this website as well as private citizen and employee of the Township in 2011. 

GallowayTwpNews.com has also OPRA'd emails from the email logs provided by the Township Clerk as requested by the Township. GallowayTwpNews.com has provided copies of the OPRA Requests from Township Clerk TC Kay to John Paff, showing the Township previously providing those email logs in response to our OPRA Requests.  


Screen Shot of Email Logs Produced by the Township and Released to GTN
The Township also releases the OPRA Log, of which we publish periodically on our site that also shows the Township fulfilling the same request in January 2013 that they have now denied to Paff. 

We have provided a copy of the complaint filed by John Paff as well as an email sent to GallowayTwpNews.com by Township Clerk TC Kay fulfilling an OPRA request for email logs to this Publisher in January 2013. Township Manager, Township Solicitor and the Deputy Clerk were all copied on the email with the fulfillment of that request. 

A request for comment was submitted to Township Clerk TC Kay, Township Manager Arch Liston and Township Solicitor Michael Fitzgerald. GallowayTwpNews.com did not receive a response.

A request for comment was also sent to John Paff. Paff stated he had "no particular comment" regarding the complaint. 




27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks galloway for wasting my taxpaying money on lawsuit that looks to be a slam dunk by the people that filed it.

Anonymous said...

I think this website just won the case for this lawsuit. Lets not give people what they ask for even if it exists. Way to show Open Gov Galloway.

Anonymous said...

This is what we need, another lawsuit! Let's waste some more taxpayers money on nonsense!!

Anonymous said...

If they have the logs why not just release them. What is there to hide?

Anonymous said...

They don't have the logs they must create them. This lawsuit will not go anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you read the lawsuit. It said the Twp has the logs electronically. They just have to provide them in the medium requested. I think this lawsuit will win and we will be stuck with paying the attorney fees too.

Anonymous said...

If we had a clerk who what they were doing, we would not have this happen,we would not be paying attorneys to review what is being released. But nooo we have a politically connected person in a job that is waaay over their head costing us way too much in outside fees and lawsuits not counting being overpaid for her skills.When is council going to do right by the people and clean up this mess? If the R's are re-elected in November,it will show them that they can do whatever they want and get away with it. What we need is common folk ,not connected to all the professionals who are draining this town dry on council.

Anonymous said...

This lawsuit should have not happened. How do you give to one and not the other unless they have something to hide on the emails.

Anonymous said...

Waste of taxpayers money, Galloway can barely afford to keep the police active!! UGH....this is a clear example of someone who needs to be laid-off.

Anonymous said...

Laid off - should be fired!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, sounds like someone is gonna get those emails that someone else didn't want out. cant wait

Anonymous said...

Word of incompetence comes to mind. How does the Township allow themselves to get sued for something like this. The amount of money the Township has spent over the past years in lawsuits is ridiculous. The Township will have to pay the attorney fees when they lose. This is an open and shut case. If you have the email logs then just give them and stop wasting my money. That clerk should be fired.

Anonymous said...

Another lawsuit on the Township under the Mayorship of Purdy. Way to go Purdy. Vote him out now. I don't have enough fingers left to count how much trouble he got us in.

Anonymous said...

Is the township even obligated to provide this being they have to create them? And maybe they did provide them prior because they thought they had to legally but actually do not? And what does the mayor have to do with this?

Anonymous said...

Has the GRC weighed in on this?

Anonymous said...

Press did story on legal fees eating up Galloway budget. This is a clear example on how the township is responsible for the legal fees eating up our budget. Those that live in gallwoay should be questioning our council and mayor. Those that don't live in Galloway should stop contributing to overwhelming legal fees already. This shows how much money Mayor Don Purdy is responsible for. Over a million is inexcusable. Especially when your personal attorney is one of those eating up legal fees mr Purdy. Time to go mayor.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the mayor around or has he been hanging out with his EHT Mayor touch.

Ron Schreiber said...

stay tune more to come ...just starting .

Anonymous said...

Wow that's really interesting this was supposedly updated on "November 4" but there is no trace of the update on Facebook or Twitter. Not to mention any new comments on here until November 10.

Publisher said...

Yes it was updated. Perhaps critics should do their research prior to their biased reporting. But since those want to drum up stories for no apparent reason, I updated Facebook and twitter on this minor update. A full story after the Judges decision really is what journalism is about!

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point of view on journalism. Tell me how come you never reported the "full story after the judges decision" after the PBA lawsuit????

Publisher said...

Because it's not over yet. But I'm sure you didn't know that! No more free "quotes" for your biased publication. Thank you for reading Galloway Township News.

Anonymous said...

So report that. Don't leave people hanging for years until the final outcome. That's not balanced.

Publisher said...

Sure. I will get right on that with all the other stories I am working on. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

That's creepy. Someone is stalking the Publishers Facebook page. People have nothing better to do with themselves?!

Publisher said...

Yes, it is disturbing to say the least. Thank you for your concern. Those individuals and biased publication will still continue to mislead and lie to the public to their own advantage and the advantage of the Mayor. Which has begun to backfire on them.

Anonymous said...

How did it backfire on them? The Mayor won re-election?

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