To the extent there was any doubt, a recent article in the New Jersey Law Journal reports that a third county prosecutor has determined that deliberations via email of municipal action by a quorum of municipal officials about government business violates the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act (commonly known as the Sunshine Law). As in the cases of the Cape May County and Burlington County Prosecutors, the Gloucester County Prosecutor declined to pursue an action, notably because the incidents in question were deemed to be incidental and unintentional and the penalty for a first offense is merely $100, with penalties up to $500 for subsequent violations of the Sunshine Law.

Where this becomes more relevant is in the possible challenge to municipal action where the deliberations take place outside public scrutiny via email. Given that emails discussing government business are subject to scrutiny under the Open Public Records Acts, we can and should anticipate greater inquiry and possible challenge to municipal actions based upon violations of Sunshine Law.