This matter is before the court on cross motions for summary judgment. The plaintiffs are Robert Collins, a reporter, and Southern New Jersey Newspapers, Inc. Defendants in this action are the Camden County Dept. of Health and the public health coordinator, Joseph Surowiec, Jr.
Plaintiffs' complaint in lieu of prerogatives writs seeks an order, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. (The Right to Know Law), directing defendant, Dept. of Health to permit plaintiffs to inspect and copy personnel screening committee evaluations of candidates for a position as Director of Health Education Services.
The parties concede and the court is satisfied upon examination of the briefs and the affidavits on file that there exists no genuine dispute as to any material fact. This case is, therefore, ripe for summary judgment. Judson v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Westfield, 17 N.J. 67 (1954).
In September 1983 an ad hoc committee was formed at the request of defendant Surowiec to review resumes and interview candidates for the position of Director of Health Education Services for the Camden County Department of Health. The individual selected was to be approved provisionally by the
Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders until the State Dept. of Civil Service authorized a permanent appointment.
The ad hoc screening committee prepared an evaluation of each individual interviewed. Candidates were rated on subjective criteria including general appearance, poise, speaking skills, and apparent ability to assume the responsibilities of the position.
After the evaluative process but prior to an appointment of any individual to the position, plaintiff attempted to obtain copies of the screening committee's evaluative reports. Plaintiff Collins was denied access to that material. The defendants do not dispute the existence of the evaluative material, nor the fact that plaintiffs requested and were refused access to that material.
These motions require the court to determine whether evaluative reports concerning job applicants produced by an ad hoc personnel screening committee is a public record under the Right to Know Law. If such material is a public record, the court must next determine whether access to these reports, nevertheless would be barred pursuant to an Executive Order of the Governor.
Having reviewed the parties' contentions and the applicable law, for reasons hereinafter stated, this court finds that the evaluative reports are not public records within the statutory definition. Further, even if the reports were regarded as public records their disclosure would be prohibited by Executive Order of the Governor. Summary judgment is, therefore, granted to defendants and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is denied.
The Right to Know Law, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-2, defines a "public record" as:
In In re Toth, 175 N.J. Super. 254 (App.Div.1980), the court held that character and background reports on the chairman of the Casino Control Commission were not public records. Despite a statute which clearly required an inquiry into the nominee's background, the court determined that since a ...