A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that police reports about the use of force must be made public upon request even if they refer to a minor who has been charged as a delinquent.
Wednesday's ruling by the state Appellate Division handed The Trentonian newspaper a win in its lawsuit against Ewing Township, the paper reported.
The decision follows the township's decision to deny the publication's request for information regarding a Jan. 5, 2018, arrest where an officer manhandled a 16-year-old suspected of stealing a car.
The newspaper requested the use of forcereport on Jan. 23, 2018,under public records laws. Ewing Township denied the request, citing a New Jersey law that says any law enforcement record concerning juveniles charged as delinquent “shall be strictly safeguarded from public inspection.”
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The Trentonian filed a lawsuit against Ewing Township and Municipal Clerk Kim Macellaro in March 2018.
A Mercer County Assignment judge dismissed the original complaint,agreeing with the township's argument.
The newspaper appealed the decision on Aug. 16, 2018.
"We now reverse," Presiding Judge Carmen Alvarez said in the appellate ruling.He said that simply redacting a juvenile's name from the report would guarantee the young person's right to privacy and allowing the report to be released.