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Town, University to Split Legal Fees in Public Records Case

The Princeton Council met in closed session Monday night to discuss how to handle legal fees in Planet Princeton’s public records case regarding police jurisdiction. The town is still in discussions regarding its portion of the legal bills, officials said.

If a public agency in New Jersey refuses a citizen’s public records request, the citizen can challenge the public records denial in court.

Planet Princeton was the prevailing party in a case that was decided in Mercer County Superior Court in July regarding policing agreements between Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety and the Princeton Police Department. Under New Jersey law, a citizen who wins a public records case against a public agency is entitled to legal fees from the agency that denied the public records request.

In February, Planet Princeton requested copies of all policing agreements for the last few years and the town rejected the request in its entirety. Planet Princeton then filed a lawsuit, and the town handed over the agreements as a result of the suit. Princeton University objected to the release of a map and a chart that were attached to two of the agreements. The town was willing to release the attachments, but did not do so because of the university’s position. The school then became an intervenor in the case, and agreed to be responsible for the legal fees in the case from that point on.

The town must pay the lawyer for Planet Princeton about $4,000. Princeton University’s portion of the bill is about $9,000 to $10,000.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • PrincetonResident

    Perhaps you should ask our elected officials with very close Princeton U. connections why they put the interests of the private university over the general public. There should be more outrage over this clear betrayal of the oaths they’ve taken. Their actions are behind this additional cost.

  • Joe Small

    Your taxes went up because Princeton Mayor and Council decided to resist Planet Princeton’s request. A court determined that Planet Princeton was entitled to the information. If the Mayor and Council hadn’t resisted the request in the first place there would have been no legal costs. Place the blame where it is due, on the mistaken Mayor and Council who lost the case.

  • Meldiner

    Thank you Planet for making our taxes go up.

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