Robert Wayne Tarus was denied the right to videotape the audience and certain speakers at a borough council meeting in Pine Hill, Camden County, New Jersey. The ACLU-NJ submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that videotaping falls within the umbrella of the right to free speech, subject only to legitimate "time, place and manner" restrictions, and that videotaping provides a uniquely valuable source of information that may not be obtained through handwritten notes or audio recording. On March 7, 2007, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held that videotaping public meetings is part of the common law right to obtain public information and that the ad hoc restriction on videotaping in this case was unreasonable. Chief Justice James R. Zazzali, writing for the court, explained: "Openness is a hallmark of democracy -- a sacred maxim of our government -- and video is but a modern instrument in that evolving pursuit. . . . The use of modern technology to record and review the activities of public bodies should marshal pride in our open system of government, not muster suspicion against citizens who conduct the recording."


Jennifer Klear/Drinker, Biddle & Reath

Date filed

August 18, 2006


New Jersey Supreme Court