According to the case law, the rule is:

a) “Actual publication is not required,” and

b) “When a public body sends meeting notices to newspapers for publication and, to the actual or readily ascertainable knowledge of that body, those newspapers cannot publish the notice at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting, there is no compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.”

So, in sum, public bodies have to take the newspapers’ publication schedules and deadlines into account when announcing special meetings. But, if the newspapers are notified of a meeting in time so they COULD publish notice of it at least 48 hours prior to the meeting, the public body has complied with OPMA even if the newspapers don’t actually publish the meeting notice.

Both a) and b) above are quotes from Worts v. Upper Township, 176 N.J.Super. 78 (Ch.1980). Although the Worts case is not binding precedent, the case has been cited by the Appellate Division with apparent approval. (See Township of Bernards v. State, Dept. Of Community Affairs, 233 N.J.Super. 1, 26, (App.Div.1989), certif. denied, 118 N.J. 194 (1989), and certif. denied, 118 N.J. 195 (1989))

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]