On January 7, 2020, the ACLU of New Jersey filed an amicus brief with other advocates who support police records transparency. At issue is the release of internal affairs records regarding Neptune Township Police Officer Phillip Seidle who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing his wife on a street in front of their child and several police officers. The Asbury Park Press requested his internal affairs records pursuant to OPRA and the common law. Ultimately, the trial court granted access to the records pursuant to the common law and awarded attorneys’ fees. The government appealed. The amicus brief argues that: (1) public access to internal affairs records would benefit the public; (2) transparency strengthens trust between the community and police; (3) transparency benefits police officers personally; and (4) secrecy undermines the public’s efforts to hold their government accountable against corruption. The brief also argues that the trial court was authorized to award attorneys’ fees under the common law.
In December 2020, the Attorney General agreed to release the records at issue. The appeal is proceeding on the issue of attorneys’ fees.
- Asbury Park Press: Amicus Brief (5.6 MB PDF)