Five and a half years ago, I published an online spreadsheet of cases pending before the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Today, I am releasing an updated spreadsheet that includes both open cases and cases that were closed on or after January 1, 2019. By downloading and sorting these files, you will find that 86 of the open cases were filed prior to 2016, 17 were filed over 10 years ago, and three cases are still pending from 2009.
The OAL has no on-line docket of which I’m aware. Therefore, the spreasheets below are the only known source that lists these cases. The spreadsheets each consist of 60,068 cases.
You can access the spreadsheet in Excel format here and in CSV (Comma Separated Value) format here. To better understand the spreadsheet, readers will need to download a list of three-character “client” codes, which is available here.
The OAL generally handles “contested cases” referred to it by administrative agencies. For instance, if you are interested in viewing contested cases assigned by the Government Records Council, you can filter the “Client No.” field in the file using “GRC.” This will show that there are 13 such cases still pending, with the earliest one filed on September 10, 2014, nearly nine years ago. Additionally, it will show that 38 GRC cases have been closed since 2019.
Another way to utilize the spreadsheet is to search for a specific county or municipality that interests you. For example, if you search for “Wildwood,” a city in Cape May County, you will discover, among other records, that two related Civil Service cases titled “John T. Davis v. Wildwood City, Dept. of Public Works, OAL Docket Nos 40307-21 and 40308-21” were filed on May 12, 2021, and are currently pending. Through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, I was able to obtain a copy of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Elaine B. Frick’s May 18, 2023, discovery order that contains a good deal of background information on the discipline Wildwood imposed on Davis. (Note: Davis’ appeal itself is exempt from OPRA under N.J.A.C. 4A:1-2.2(c)(1), which excludes “Appeal files in any Civil Service Commission . . . matters” from disclosure in relevant part.) For more background about the matters underlying Davis’ dispute with Wildwood, see Davis’ whistleblower suit, John Davis v. City of Wildwood, Docket No. CPM-L-353-20, which has been stayed by the court pending resolution of the two OAL matters.
If you perform a similar search for “Beachwood,” a borough in Ocean County, you will discover that a Civil Service case titled “Justin Apel v. Beachwood Borough, Dept. of Public Safety” was filed on May 19, 2023, and is currently pending. Further research, conducted through Gannett’s “DataUniverse,” would reveal that Apel is a Beachwood police officer. However, if you were to submit an OPRA request for information underlying the matter, you would probably be denied under the N.J.A.C. 4A:1-2.2(c)(1) exemption because there probably are no ALJ opinions or other disclosable records in the file, given that the case was recently filed. If you are interested in the details of Apel’s case, you might want to mark it on your calendar, perhaps six or nine months from now, to submit an OPRA request for disclosable records related to the matter.
It is important to note that the mere existence of an administrative case involving an employee or public agency should not lead readers to make any judgments or assumptions about either party. Instead, the presence of an administrative case should be regarded solely as a starting point for gathering additional information through one or more OPRA requests. Indeed, without the OAL Case spreadsheet, the general public would often remain unaware of the existence of an administrative case involving a specific employee or public agency.
Please note that some of the records in the spreadsheet contain errors. For instance, some of the dates in the “Filed date” field may be incorrect, such as 2026 or 2202.