“Unpublished opinions” are not published in the law books and are not ordinarily written about in legal periodicals. Unless somebody puts them on-line and calls attention to them, they are likely not to be located by people who may want to search for them. I think that it’s important that court opinions, even if they are not precedential, are easily accessible for future use.
Rivera v. Bergen County Prosecutor’s office
Bergen County, Docket No. BER-L-4310-12
Hon. Peter E. Doyne, A.J.S.C.
December 11, 2012
Click here for the opinion.
Judge Doyne’s opinion clearly and comprehensively explains the law regarding attorney fee awards to successful Open Public Records Act (OPRA) plaintiffs. Among the issues discussed are: a) paying a lawyer’s full hourly rate for work that can be done by a secretary or paralegal, b) paying a lawyer’s hourly rate for travelling back and forth to the courthouse, c) paying a lawyer for the time it takes to prepare the lawyer’s fee application, d) reducing a lawyer’s fee when he or she is less than 100% successful and e) paying a lawyer a “contingency fee enhancement” in addition to his or her regular hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours worked.