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Mason v. City of Hoboken

January 29, 2008

ELIZABETH MASON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF HOBOKEN AND JAMES FARINA, CITY CLERK OF THE CITY OF HOBOKEN IN HIS PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY AS CITY CLERK OF THE CITY OF HOBOKEN, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Docket No. L-156-06.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 10, 2007

Before Judges Coburn, Fuentes and Chambers.

Plaintiff, Elizabeth Mason, a resident of defendant City of Hoboken, appeals the dismissal of her complaint alleging violations of various provisions of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 to -13. Specifically, plaintiff argues that the trial judge erred by concluding that defendants had not violated OPRA by failing to respond, within the time frame provided by the statute, to her specific requests for government records. We affirm.

We agree with plaintiff that the municipal clerk, as the custodian of government records, failed to provide a timely response to her requests. In the context of this case, however, we deem such error inconsequential. We are in full agreement with the trial judge's determination that plaintiff's requests were over-broad and did not specify the documents that she was seeking.

We gather the following facts from the record developed before the trial judge.

I.

On November 22, 2005, plaintiff submitted four OPRA requests to defendant James Farina in his capacity as Municipal Clerk of Hoboken. These requests, numbered 05-2721, 05-2722, 05-2723, and 05-2724 by the Clerk's office, and stamped "Received" by the "City Clerk, Hoboken, NJ 07030," read as follows:

(1) OPRA request #05-2721 ("Mayor's Park Plan Request"):

To review all written & electronic voice mails, correspondence, between City of Hoboken and its representatives and vendors/suppliers consultants on the Mayor's Park Plan. To include, but not limited to artists, photographer, printer, outdoor, media, etc.. If available in electronic form please supply in that form.

(2) OPRA request #05-2722 ("Skating Rink Request"):

To review all correspondence (include contracts, agreements, etc.) between the City of Hoboken, its representatives, and Steven's Institute regarding the skating rink (Magic Ice).

(3) OPRA request #05-2723 ("URSA/Mayor's Park Plan Request"):

To review all correspondence (include contracts, agreements, etc) between the City of Hoboken and its consultants, representatives and URSA ...


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