OPRA requires that each county designate a judge to handle OPRA matters. As a result, each County has a designated OPRA judge. The list may be found on the Court’s website. While it does not happen frequently, designated OPRA judges do change, so you should always check the list before you file a new case. In the experience of this Firm, you can expect that the designated OPRA judge is the one who will be assigned to your case unless the Court identifies a conflict of interest, in which case the matter will most likely be assigned to the alternate OPRA judge. Of course, there are many possible reasons why a judge might be assigned to a specific case; conflicts are not the only reason. In rare cases, neither the designated OPRA judge or the designated backup will hear your case.
Knowing who the designated OPRA judge on a case will also inform how the case may proceed. Some designated OPRA judges hold initial or pre-answer case management conferences to see if the issues presented in the complaint can be narrowed or even resolved. Also, experienced practitioners will likely be familiar with how the designated OPRA judge has ruled in in similar cases in the past.
Anyone who has been denied access to records or has questions about access to public records should contact Cohn Lifland to discuss their options. The statute of limitations to file a denial of access complaint in Superior Court is 45 days after the date of the denial, so it is important to act quickly.