As a result of Jackson Township playing games with records, a plaintiff in a current lawsuit against Jackson, Oros Bais Yaakov, has filed for a court order to fine the township for destroying evidence and prevent them from doing so further.
The motion details how the township clerk, after being deposed in the case, denied multiple lawsuit-related OPRA requests while claiming that the records were no longer available. For example:
On March 24, 2019, [requestor] sent another OPRA request to the Township requesting “all emails between Mike Reina and Helene Schlegel in Oct 2014 with regard to the Oros Bais Yaakov lawsuit or complaint.”
On March 25, 2019, the Township advised [requestor] that the “records requested have been destroyed under general correspondence as per approval from the NJDARM.” The response referenced the “Authorization from Records Disposal approved on 3/6/19.”
The Township Clerk, Janice Kisty, has already been deposed in this matter and is thus fully familiar with the ongoing lawsuit. It was Ms. Kisty who approved the request to destroy the correspondence.
Also included are examples of the clerks discussing the destruction of records:
In what appears to be a continuing course of deliberate action to destroy records, Ms. Kisty also emailed Township employee, Danielle Sinowitz, “Reminder that 2014 and maybe 2015 is destroyed…” with respect to an OPRA request seeking Eruv
Oros notes too that public OPRA responses turned up emails they had never seen, while these emails should have been returned during discovery already.
NJ Court Rules consider hiding, altering or getting rid of evidence during legal proceedings a “failure to make discovery”. The attorneys for Oros ask for a court order to stop this behavior and penalize the township, by:
(a) Enjoining Defendants from continuing to knowingly and willfully destroy documents relevant to this lawsuit during its pendency;
(b) Imposing a monetary sanction against Defendants for its intentional violative actions of destroying documents relevant to this lawsuit during its pendency; and
(c) Imposing an adverse inference Sanction against Defendants for its intentional violative actions of destroying documents relevant to this lawsuit during its pendency;
Jackson has yet to respond to these allegations in court.
- Motion to enjoin defendants and for sanctions – legal brief
- Motion to enjoin defendants and for sanctions – proposed order