In a July 10, 2015 Order, Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson ordered the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office to pay my attorney, Richard M. Gutman of Montclair, $45,690.76 for costs and legal services related to my lawsuit that won disclosure of four “Brady letters” that had been withheld by the Prosecutor’s Office. Background on this lawsuit is on-line here. The fee award is stayed, however, pending the Prosecutor’s appeal of Judge Johnson’s order to disclose the four letters.
In his written decision, Judge Johnson criticized the manner in which the Prosecutor’s Office managed my OPRA request and lawsuit. Johnson wrote that the Prosecutor’s Office “failed to treat this claim with urgency or respect” and delayed production of certifications which, according to Judge Johnson, wasted “valuable time.” Judge Johnson found that even though I prevailed under the common law right of access, rather than OPRA, I was still entitled to attorney fees because of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Mason v. City of Hoboken.