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SPJ joins amicus brief about request for surveillance footage



Jan. 27, 2016

Paul Fletcher, SPJ National President, 804-873-1893, pfletcher.spj@gmail.com
Maggie LaMar, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-361-4134, mlamar@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists has joined an amicus brief with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press involving a request under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act for access to surveillance footage from a pole-mounted, stationary camera.

In the case of Patricia Gilleran v. Township of Bloomfield, the town government has several arguments, including that the video footage should be subject to a blanket exemption from the open records act because the footage captured comings-and-going at the town hall, where there is also a police station. The town’s arguments, if accepted, would implicate public access to police recordings more generally (including dash cams and body cams). The trial court and an appellate court both rejected the town’s arguments and found that the footage had to be released. The case is moving to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

“Access to records – including police recordings – is extremely important and necessary in keeping the public informed of the workings of government,” said SPJ National President Paul Fletcher. “We hope that the New Jersey Supreme Court stands up for freedom of information and affirms the trial and appellate courts’ rulings.”

The First Amendment guarantees the press and the public a right of access to criminal trials, including pretrial proceedings, and documents submitted in connection with them. In its role as a free press and free speech advocate, SPJ initiates and joins amicus briefs to support First Amendment and open records cases.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.


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