On April 7, 2015, Middlesex County Assignment Judge Travis L. Francis ordered the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) to disclose “video and audio recordings of police pursuits engaged in by members of the New Brunswick Police Department from January 2004 to present.”  In a written decision in William J. Brennan v. Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and James O’Neill, Custodian, Docket No. MID-L-293-15 (on-line here), Judge Francis also upheld the MCPO’s denial of Brennan’s subsequent request for “all communications regarding [Brennan’s previous records request] including [the MCPO’s] communications with anyone regarding my request”

In his ruling, Judge Francis rejected the MCPO’s contention that the recordings were exempt as “criminal investigatory records.”  He wrote that the MCPO had not provided any “articulable concerns of how [the videos’] release would influence an investigation or the role such video would play in said investigation.”  He also rejected the MCPO’s argument that the request was overly broad. He also ordered that the MCPO pay Brennan’s lawyer, Donald F. Burke of Brick, attorney fees of an amount yet to be determined.

But, an April 10, 2015 brief (on-line here) filed by Senior Deputy Middlesex County Counsel Benjamin D. Leibowitz, supported by a Certification by Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Thomas K. Mannion (on-line here) urge Francis to reconsider and stay his order so that the MCPO can “file a motion for leave to appeal with the Appellate Division from the Order of April 7, 2015.”  As of this writing, the MCPO’s motions are still pending.

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