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Legal Hotline - Public Notice


CAUTION: Because the law is constantly evolving, it is important before relying upon any opinion on this website that you check with the hotline counsel to ascertain whether or not there has been any subsequent change or supplementation to the law since the date of the opinion.

Answers provided by NJPA's Legal Counsel.

 

March 8, 2001

Question:
Is a municipality required to make accessible copies of resumes submitted by applicants for an open space committee? 
Answer:
The resumes are generally not public records because they are not required to be made, maintained or kept on file. However Executive Order 11, signed by Gov. Bryne in 1974 requires that the municipality provide information as the specific experience and education qualifications of the persons appointed. 

January 26, 2001

Question:
How is circulation calculated for the application of the legal rate statute?

Answer:
The newspaper must submit an affidavit "setting forth the average net paid circulation of such newspaper for the 12-month period ending September 30."

January 19, 2001 

Question:
Must a liquor license transfer notice be published in the official municipal newspaper? 

Answer:
No. Under NJSA 33:1-25 "every applicant for a license that is not a renewal of an annual license" must publish notice "in a newspaper printed in the English language, published and circulated in the municipality in which the licensed premises are located." Therefore the transfer notice is not required to be published in the official newspaper. If there is no newspaper published in the municipality the notice must be published in a newspaper published and circulating in the county in which the premises are located. 

If the municipality is putting new licenses out to bid it must advertise for the bids in the official newspaper.

January 11, 2001

Question:
Received a call advising that a municipality has settled a claim brought by a woman against one of its police officers for harassment of some kind. Apparently, the case was settled and there is some question as to whether or not litigation ever ensued - i.e., whether or not there are any pleadings of record in the courts. The settlement, according to the plaintiff's attorney, requires that the plaintiff not release the amounts or any details regarding the matter to the public. The question posed to me was how to legally obtain documentation such as to write an informative and accurate article about it.

Answer:
One of the things that I advised this reporter to look for is a notice of claim. Under Title 59, a notice of claim is required for all tort claims against a municipality. They must be filed in affidavit form with the municipality within 90 days of the incident (there are statutory provisions for exemptions from this, but in general the 90 day period is enforced). And I advised that I would think that Title 59 would be construed to require the city to maintain those records and keep them of record. 

Thus, I suggested that the first avenue of approach to get this notice of claim "which describes the date of the incident, describes the acts alleged to have made up the tort, and so on" would be to write a letter to the city demanding a copy under the Right To Know Law (Title 47); then I discussed with her the possibility that there may be some regulation, governor's executive order, or a statute which requires that these matters be exempt from the Right To Know Law and in that event, I told her she still had a right under the Common Law to seek a copy of the notice.

In addition, I told her to check the agendas of the City Council meetings. If the City Council voted to settle the case, there would have had to have been a resolution (or ordinance?) to that effect. Even if that were done in executive session (pending litigation, personnel, discussions with own attorney, etc.), there would have to have been a resolution passed in public citing the specific reasons for the executive session and, most importantly, stating when the minutes of the executive session will be made available to the public. Since the litigation is obviously completed, it would seem to me that she'd have a good case for demanding copies of the minutes at this time.

In addition, I told her to check with the courts to see if there were any records of any pleadings -- in particular, a complaint. She indicated that she has learned that the plaintiff's attorney sent in a complaint for filing but then later asked that it be returned to him. I told her she ought to check that out in greater detail. If the plaintiff's attorney filed the complaint along with a check for the filing fee, it may be that the court did, in fact, file it but later sent it back after a letter/notice of dismissal. In such a case, I would think that the court would be obliged to maintain a record of it and, if such a record has been made, it should be made available.

July 29, 1999

Question:
In a municipality where the official newspaper for legal advertising is a weekly, may legal notices be published in a daily circulating in the municipality to achieve a shorter time frame? 
Answer:
No. The legal notices must be published in the official newspaper for the receipt of legal advertisements. If the notice is published in some other newspaper it is ineffective, as if no notice had been published.

May 4, 1998

Question:
May a municipality place its legal ads in the local newspaper in addition to its publication in the official legal newspaper? 
Answer:
Yes. Nothing in the law prevents multiple advertisements when legal notice is required.
 

 

The Hotline is operated by NJPA's General Counsel, Tom Cafferty of Gibbons P.C.  Cafferty has served in this capacity for more than 30 years and has extensive First Amendment and communication law expertise. The Hotline is available to all publications that are active members of the New Jersey Press Association.

To reach the Hotline:

Call (973) 596-4863 The regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but callers may leave a recorded message 24 hours per day on a dedicated voice-mail line. The Hotline attorneys will return all calls as soon as possible.
Fax: (973) 639-6267  
Write: NJPA Legal Hotline, c/o Gibbons P.C., One Gateway Center, Newark, NJ 07102-5310

E-mail: tcafferty@gibbonslaw.com

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