Mason loses a case, continues fighting

7/22/2008:

A press release from Councilwoman Beth Mason’s camp today:

hoboken-beth-mason-lost-lawsuit.jpg

Mason remains committed to open government

Councilwoman Beth Mason issued the following statement regarding today’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision and her request for government records.

“Despite the court’s decision today, I stand firmly with those members of the press – the reporters, the editorial writers and the columnists – who have struggled to remove the veil of secrecy that exists over government and are fighting to unmask the state’s rampant corruption.”

“I remain committed to fighting for the rights of the press and the public to access government records and determine how their government is operating and how public officials are spending taxpayer money,” said Mason.

The case centered on Mason’s request for public documents from the City of Hoboken, including the general ledger of the city – which is nothing more than the city’s checkbook that details expenditures. The city refuses do give the ledger to mason, claiming they were “fixing it.” Mason was supported in the case by the New Jersey Press Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Libertarian Party.

“The city’s general ledger doesn’t belong to the city officials, it belongs to the people.” said Mason.

Mason’s attorney, Jeffrey Kantowitz, said the court simply got it wrong. “I respect the New Jersey Supreme Court, but in this case I think they erred and failed to see the harm the decision will do to open government and governmental accountability.”

Kantowitz added that: “Unfortunately, the court has given public officials, who want to conceal the truth from citizens, a blueprint for how to do it.”

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29 Comments on "Mason loses a case, continues fighting"

slowboken07
Member
slowboken07

Apparently the Supreme Court has ruled agsainst her AGAIN amd refused to consider her appeal in a separate OPRA case and upheld the City’s victory.

slowboken07
Member
slowboken07

“The unfortunate thing about this is that it makes it appear as though Beth Mason lost a major case in attempting to get the city to comply with OPRA, instead of “merely” being unable to collect her attorney’s fees. ”

But that’s all the suit was about, her trying to get attorney’s fees.

HHoney
Member
HHoney

[quote comment=”94781″]http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/A-22-07%20Mason%20v%20City%20of%20Hoboken.pdf

Here’s the opinion … it was forwarded to me by a friend. The beginning of it has a brief “syllabus” written by the clerk (aka law student or first/second year attorney).[/quote]
Katie, thanks for posting this. The gist of the court seems to be the same as the previous courts which is “you got what you asked for in a reasonable timeframe, even if it wasn’t exactly to State statute, you’re not asking for anything that would improve the responsiveness of future requests, you are asking for money, lots of money and we the court don’t feel you are entitled to that money.”

If feels like if she was suing for process improvements, that she probably would get them but the court doesn’t feel she deserves cash compensation for her troubles. Very interesting.

RYBice
Member
RYBice

Katie Scarlett: Thanks for the lead on the Court’s opinion. The unfortunate thing about this is that it makes it appear as though Beth Mason lost a major case in attempting to get the city to comply with OPRA, instead of “merely” being unable to collect her attorney’s fees. We do wish, however, that she had collected so she could recycle that money into additional suits, if necessary, or perhaps disseminate all that information city-wide so everybody can see what’s going on. The question still outstanding in my mind: the city had “to withhold records because they needed to be corrected.” What did they say before “corrections”?

jpl
Member

[quote comment=”94781″]http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/A-22-07%20Mason%20v%20City%20of%20Hoboken.pdf

Here’s the opinion … it was forwarded to me by a friend. The beginning of it has a brief “syllabus” written by the clerk (aka law student or first/second year attorney).[/quote]

Ah, the good old ‘Catalyst Theory’ and ‘Casual Nexus’ strikes again. 🙂

Thanks for the doc.

A quick read of the syllabus and the last 10 pages makes the reasoning behind the courts decision pretty clear, at least to my humble legal mind.

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