of New Jersey
WHEREAS, Chapter 73, P. L. 1963, finds and declares it to be the public
policy of this State that public records shall be readily accessible for
examination by the citizens of this State for the protection of the public
interest, except as otherwise provided in said law; and
WHEREAS, Said Chapter 73 provides that all records which are required
by law to be made, maintained or kept on file by State and local governmental
agencies are to be deemed to be public records, subject to inspection
and examination and available for copying, pursuant to said law; and
WHEREAS, Chapter 73 represents a right supplemental to the existing
right of the public to examine and copy public records, which right has
been established under the common law and by statute and remains inviolate
even without the benefit of the provisions of said Chapter 73; and
WHEREAS, Some limitation upon the otherwise unqualified and unrestricted
right to examine and copy records provided by Chapter 73 is essential
and not detrimental to the public interest since the existing common law
and statutory right to examine records remains upon the satisfaction of
the requirements imposed by such laws; and
WHEREAS, Said Chapter 73 provides that records which would otherwise
be deemed to be public records, subject to inspection and examination
and available for copying, pursuant to the provisions of said law, maybe
excluded therefrom by Executive Order of the Governor or by any regulation
promulgated under the authority of any Executive Order of the Governor;
WHEREAS, Section 3 (e) of 9, issued by Governor Richard J. Hughes in
1963, states that fingerprint cards, plates and photographs and other
similar criminal in vestigation records which are required to be made,
maintained or kept by any State or local governmental agency shall not
be deemed to be public records subject to inspection and examination and
available for copying pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 73, P. L.
WHEREAS, There has arisen confusion among the media and law enforcement
personnel as to whether certain records of police departments are public
records within the purview of Chapter 73, P. L. 1963, or are exempt under
the purview of Executive Order No. 9 of Governor Richard J. Hughes;
Now, Therefore, I, Thomas H. Kean, Governor of the State of New Jersey,
by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes
of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT
- Section 3 (e) of 9 of Governor Richard J. Hughes is modified as hereinafter
set forth and any regulations adopted and promulgated thereunder shall
be deemed null and void insofar as the same shall be consistent with
the provisions thereof.
- The following records shall not be deemed to be public records subject
to inspection and examination and available for copying pursuant to
the provisions of Chapter 73, P. L. 1963:
- Fingerprint cards, plates and photographs and similar
criminal investigation records which are required to be made,
maintained or kept by any State or local government agency, except
that the following information shall be made available to the
public as soon as practicable unless it shall appear that the
release of such information will jeopardize the safety of any
person or any investigation in progress or be otherwise inappro
priate. For the purposes of this Order, the term "as soon as practicable"
shall generally be understood to mean within 24 hours.
- Where a crime has been reported but
no arrest yet made, information as to the type of crime, time,
location and type of weapon, if any.
- If an arrest has been made, information
as to the name, address and age of any victims unless there has
not been sufficient opportunity for notification of next of kin
of any victim of injury and/or death to any such victim or where
the release of the name of any victim would be contrary to existing
law or court rule. In deciding on the release of information as
to the identity of a victim, the safety of the victim and the
victim's family, and the integrity of any ongoing investigation,
shall be considered. These concerns are heightened when a crime
has been reported but no arrest yet made.
- If an arrest has been made, information
as to the defendant's name, age, residence, occupation, marital
status and similar background information, and the identity of
the complaining party unless the release of such information is
contrary to existing law or court rule.
- Information as to the text of any
charges, such as the complaint, information and indictment unless
sealed by the court.
- Information as to the identity
of the investigating and arresting personnel and agency and the
length of the investigation.
- Information on the circumstances immediately
surrounding the arrest, including but not limited to the time
and place of the arrest, resistance, if any, pursuit, possession
and nature and use of weapons and ammunition by the suspect and
by the police.
- Information as to circumstances surrounding
bail, whether it was posted and amount thereof.
- The Attorney General, as chief law enforcement officer
of the State, or his designee, or, where appropriate, the County
Prosecutor, as chief law enforcement officer of the county, shall
promptly resolve all disputes as to whether or not the release
of records would be "otherwise inappropriate," between the custodian
of any records referred to herein and any person seeking access
thereto. Where the Attorney General or the County Prosecutor determines
that the release of records would be "otherwise inappropriate,"
he shall issue a brief statement explaining his decision.
- The terms of this Order shall be carried out in the spirit of Chapter
73, P. L. 1963, and keeping in mind the right of citizens to be aware
of events occurring in their community.
Issued November 12, 1985.