Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), meeting minutes must be “promptly available” to the public. Our courts have held that “promptly available” means within two weeks after the public body’s last meeting or at least 48 hours prior to the next meeting. At any point after that, you are free to submit an OPRA request for the minutes and access must be granted within seven (7) business days. But what about closed/executive session minutes?
OPMA allows a public body to meet in closed session to shield certain information from the public. Among other things, these matters include: (1) matter rendered confidential by other laws; (2) matters which would constitute an invasion of individual privacy; (3) proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement; (4) litigation-related subjects; and (5) certain employment matters. N.J.S.A. 10:4-12. The public body must keep minutes for these closed sessions. While it may redact the minutes when responding to your OPRA request, it must state the specific basis for each redaction within the minutes. It is not enough that it issues a blanket claim of assertion for all redactions. Finally, once the need to keep certain information ceases (such as once the litigation ends), then the public entity is to release the minutes in full, unredacted form.
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