Update: The Appellate Division reversed Judge Doyne’s ruling.

On December 24, 2013, Bergen County Superior Court Assignment Judge Peter E. Doyne ruled that the Midland Park Board of Education, which posts its public meeting agendas on-line prior to each meeting, must also post the attachments and appendices referenced in the agenda to the extent that those attachments are not shielded by some recognized privilege.

The case is captioned David W. Opderbeck v. Midland Park Board of Education, Docket No. BER-L-8571-13 and Mr. Opderbeck represented himself in the suit.  Judge Doyne’s 18-page ruling is on-line here.

Doyne wrote: “The failure of the MPBOE to provide attachments and supplemental documents renders the agendas virtually meaningless. Once the defendant posts the agenda, it is the Board’s responsibility to ensure it is meaningful. The defendant cannot provide adequate notice without including the attachments to the agenda. The attachments in this case are not simply supplemental; they are an integral element necessary to understand the agenda.”

An example of Board’s agenda that Judge Doyne felt was “virtually meaningless” without the attachments and appendices is on-line here.

While Judge Doyne’s ruling is not binding on other courts, other judges may consider it persuasive and adopt its reasoning in suits brought in other counties.  Readers are encouraged to bring Judge Doyne’s opinion to the attention of their own governing bodies and school boards, encourage them to abide by it and consider litigation if they refuse.

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