OPRA REQUEST INFORMATION

Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Information


Enacted on March 20, 2020, P.L. 2020, c.10 provides that the statutory deadlines for a public agency to respond to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request during a state of emergency, public health emergency or state of local disaster emergency, do not apply. 


 Every effort will be made to respond to an OPRA request as soon as possible; however, the County is working with reduced staff, and a delay in availability of personnel needed to provide responsive records to this office to make any necessary redactions may delay your response. 


Due to these extenuating circumstance the response to your request may be delayed. I will make every reasonable effort to adhere to the standard timeline for an OPRA request response.


Laurie Burns, Clerk of the Board 

Gloucester County Board of County Commissioners

2 South Broad Street, 3rd Floor

Woodbury, NJ 08096

Phone:  856-853-3271

Fax:  856-384-6894

Email:  lburns@co.gloucester.nj.us

 

Gloucester County Clerk of the Board is the official record keeper for Gloucester County.

 

If you require assistance with an OPRA request, please contact the Clerk of the Board at 

Phone: (856) 853-3271 Fax: (856) 384-6894 Emaillburns@co.gloucester.nj.us

 

The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) permits the public to request certain government documents. These documents are available for inspection, examination, and copying purposes. Under OPRA, certain documentation and records are unavailable for public access in order to protect secure information. For detailed information concerning this law, visit www.state.nj.us/opra/ and visit http://www.state.nj.us/grc/ to learn about the Government Records Council.

 

General OPRA information:


Seeking a List of Abandoned/Vacant Properties with tax lien information?  Please contact each municipality individually throughout the county as these are municipal records not county records.


Septic/Well and Environmental records:   When submitting a request for septic/well and/or environmental records, please be sure to include the property address including lot and block and street address as well as the city the property is located in.  


Gloucester City and Gloucester Township are located in Camden County not Gloucester County.  If the property you are seeking information on is located in either municipality, please contact the municipality directly.  You can find the OPRA request form for Gloucester City here and Gloucester Township here.  


The following documents and records are not maintained by Gloucester County and should be requested from the town or agency responsible as outlined below:


Requests for vital statistics (marriage, birth, death certificates) - Contact the municipal clerk's or registrar's office where the event took place. If the local office cannot locate the record, contact the New Jersey Department of Health Vital Statistics and Registry.


Requests for court related records : including but not limited to divorce decrees, family division records, criminal charges, civil charges, outstanding warrants and all associated arrests records may be available from the Superior Court of Gloucester County or the Federal Court where the proceeding was heard.   You can find the Superior Court request form here (pdf form).


Requests for school records: Contact the Office of the Superintendent for your district.  A list of Gloucester County School districts can be found here.


County Clerk Records:  County Clerk's online record search can be found here:  Consumers can search and print out a copy of their deed for free by using this site.  Should you have any questions, please contact the County Clerk directly at 856-853-3237.   (Examples of County Clerk records: Deeds and other land records, etc.)


Surrogate Court Records:  The Surrogate Court and their records fall under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Judiciary.  You can find the judicial request form here (pdf form).  You can reach the Surrogate’s office by phone at 856-853-3237 should you have any questions. (Examples of Surrogate records:  estate documents, adoption paperwork, guardianship documents, etc.)


If you request is for records from the Prosecutor’s Office, please direct them to:  

Gloucester County Prosecutor’s, PO Box 623, Woodbury, NJ 08096 

(856) 384-5529

Prosecutor’s OPRA request form can be found here(pdf form).


OPRA Request Form Online Submission (preferred method)                

OPRA Request Form (OPRA) (pdf) 

New Jersey State Open Public Records Act Website

New Jersey State Government Records Council Website

Frequently Asked Questions regarding OPRA

 

What items are considered Government Records?

A government record is a physical record that has a government purpose. Under OPRA a record may be any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data-processed or image-processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound recording.

 

Where can I go to inspect or obtain copies of Government Records?

Government records may be seen and copied from a records custodian at a municipal building, or board of education, and from records custodians at other levels of government such as your county, state agencies, and local, county and state authorities.

 

What procedure should be followed to obtain government records? Is there a form that must be completed in order to obtain government records?

Yes. Each public agency must have a form available to request access to records. It must be filled out properly to allow you access to the record.  


Can I request copies of government records on CD-ROM or diskette?

Yes, but the agency may charge a reasonable but special rate for that service. The fee must relate to the cost of making the copy.

 

How soon must the custodian of records grant me access to government records?

Unless otherwise noted, the custodian should grant access as soon as possible, but not more than seven business days from the request. If the records requested are in storage or not available in the seven-day period, the custodian may indicate when the records can be made available. The person asking for the record may make an arrangement with the custodian for viewing at the later date.

 

Must the custodian of records give me all the records that I request?

The custodian is required to give you access to all records that are not exceptions.

 

Does the custodian of records have the right to redact or delete certain information from government records that I request?

Yes, the custodian is required by OPRA to redact all information that falls under the rule regarding exceptions, especially personal information, proprietary information, information about criminal investigations, and the names of victims of crimes.

 

Is there a provision in the law that gives a public entity immunity for releasing information that should have been redacted?

The custodian is charged with redacting all information that meets one of the exceptions described in OPRA, but the law does not stipulate any penalties for mistakes.

 

If a requester files an OPRA request for a government for which a set fee is required, which prevails, the set fee or the copy fee?

The statutory fee must be paid, otherwise OPRA prevails.

 

Does a victim have access to his or her records?

Yes. Victims of crimes have access to their own records, but a custodian will not honor anonymous requests of this nature.

  

Exceptions to Disclosure 

 

Are there any exceptions under the Open Public Records Act?

There are a number of exceptions under OPRA, many of which deal, but are not limited to, the public's reasonable expectation of the rights of privacy. Click here for more information on exceptions.

 

Why are exceptions necessary?

There are two primary reasons, the public's reasonable expectation of privacy of information filed with government agencies, and to ensure that government agencies can function effectively. In both cases, any reason for withholding information must be balanced with protecting the public interest.

 

What are the "ACD" or "deliberative material" exceptions to the Open Public Records Act? Why are these exceptions necessary?

A government record does not include inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative or deliberative material. This type of information includes communications between government agencies and offices such as recommendations, draft documents, proposals, suggestions or other subjective documents reflecting personal opinions of the writer.

 

Are government records protected from disclosure by statute, resolution, Executive Order of the Governor, court ruling or Federal law?

Certain government records are protected by all of the above means.

 

Are the telephone numbers of pet owners that are maintained in a database considered public records?

Generally, home telephone numbers of people on file with the public agency are not accessible to the public.

 

What are the limited exceptions to the release of records by the medical examiner?

OPRA stipulates that autopsy photographs, and medical examiner information falls under the rule for exceptions.

 

Will an anonymous request for criminal investigative records be honored?

Under OPRA, custodians are required not to release such information to anonymous requesters.

 

What if a requester refuses to sign a certification declaring that he/she has not been convicted of an indictable offense? Will the requester then be denied access to personal information?

If the requester refuses to sign a certification, he or she will not be allowed access to personal information.

 

Under the personnel exception to OPRA, if the reason for separation is related to a grievance filed with the union, should this information be disclosed?

No. Any information pursuant to a grievance is considered an exception under OPRA.

 

Are records involving juveniles; cases of domestic violence or other criminal investigative records considered exceptions under OPRA? What about Medical Examiner information, such as photos of autopsies?

All of the above are considered exceptions.

 

Are state and local government agencies exempt under OPRA from disclosing procurement records concerning computer and building security measures?

OPRA exempts from disclosure administrative or technical information regarding computer and building security measures if disclosure would jeopardize sensitive data.

 

Is information concerning surveillance equipment and investigatory services available to the public?

Both state and local government agencies are exempt from disclosing security measures and surveillance techniques, if disclosure creates a risk to the safety of people or property.

 

Fees for Copying Records 

 

Is there a fee for copying government records? If so what is that cost?

Yes, there is a fee. Most paper records can be copied for a fee of $.05 per letter size page, $.07 per legal size page. If material not easily copied on office equipment is requested, the cost can be higher, depending on the record and how it is copied. There is no fee to examine or inspect records.

 

If there is an existing law or regulation governing the fee assessed for duplication of a government record by an agency, do the fees imposed under OPRA supersede the law or regulation?

No, OPRA does not supersede laws or regulations that set fees for specific types of records.

 

Are there any fees or special service charges that can be imposed for items requested?

Special charges may be set for duplication when the copies take special effort or equipment. This is often when records cannot be copied by equipment owned by the agency (i.e., copies of engineering drawing that must be sent out).

 

What if a person is indigent and cannot afford the fee?

There are no provisions for "free copies," though anyone is free to inspect them.

 

May the custodian of records impose a special service charge to cover the cost of labor where complying with the request for documents involves use of technology?

Yes. In cases where requests for records are in a medium not routinely used by the agency and requiring a substantial amount of manipulation or programming of information technology, the agency may charge, in addition to the cost of duplication, a specials reasonable charge related to its cost of making the copy.

  

Appealing Denial of Access 

 

What if my request for government records is denied or if information redacted or deleted is essential to my research? Do I have any recourse to require that this information be provided?

You have the right under OPRA to appeal the custodian's denial of your request either to the Government Records Council or the Superior Court.

 

Do I have to be told why a request for access is denied and must I be notified of my right to appeal my denial of government records?

Yes. Any time you are denied access, there must be a reason, and you must be advised of your rights of appeal by material provided by the custodian. A notice of how to appeal a denial must also be posted in the record custodian's office.

 

Whose responsibility is it to inform me of my right to appeal?

The responsibility to inform you is with the custodian of the records you requested

 

How do I file an appeal with the Government Records Council or in Superior Court?

A complaint can be registered with the Council from its web site, or by phone (Toll Free: 1-866-850-0511). It must be reduced to writing on a form available from the Council.

 

Alternatively, the requester may file an appeal in Superior Court where the denial occurred. Advice of an attorney is advised. There is a $200 fee and court papers must be filed - or the requester may file a complaint with the Government Records Council."