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Bergen newspaper has no right to internal report, judges rule

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

The Bergen Record newspaper’s “generalized citizen’s interest” doesn’t outweigh the government’s interest in protecting its citizens by keeping certain internal matters private, a state appeals court ruled. Already struck down by a lower court, lawyers for the newspaper’s parent company literally took their case to the next level, with the same result. At issue is the newspaper’s attempts at getting hold of an internal study of the Paramus police department.

Paramus officials turned back N orth Jersey Media Group when it requested the study, known as “The Poole Report,” under the state’s Open Public Records Act. A state judge upheld that decision and refused to reconsider.

“The Poole Report was authored by an outside consultant who conducted an anonymous survey of the Department’s officers as a first step in a multi-year internal review process designed to improve the Department’s operations,” the appeals judges wrote, upholding the lower judge’s ruling.

On balance, neither The Record’s “generalized citizen’s interest” nor its commercial interest outweighs the government’s interest in nondisclosure, they said.

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