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New Jersey’s public records fights prove costly

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Records obtained by The Associated Press show that New Jersey has spent more than $1 million over the last four years after losing legal fights to keep public records secret.

Information obtained through the state’s Open Public Records Act shows the state paid out $1,076,013 in taxpayer money reimbursing plaintiffs’ lawyers fees in 54 cases from January 2012 through March 4.

That includes $360,780 from 12 cases in which people and media organizations successfully fought decisions by Gov. Chris Christie’s office not to release information.

Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts says the number of cases can be traced to an unprecedented number of records requests the administration has been subject to.

The state can be forced to cover legal fees if a judge determines documents were unlawfully denied.

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