N.J. town wants to restrict recording of its meetings — even threatening jail time

A Warren County town wants to restrict how residents record its meetings. But an open-government group is concerned the proposed rules — which could include a hefty fine or jail time for violators — will chill all forms of public participation.

If enacted, the ordinance being considered by the Mansfield Township Committee (which you can read here) would require residents to provide at least an hour notice of their intent to record video, set up in specific locations and refrain from moving or packing up during a committee meeting, among other restrictions.

Also included: A fine up to $2,000 or the possibility of 90 days jail time or community service for violations, according to maximum possible penalty under the town code.

“It would seem that you can’t even quietly leave early and pack up your tripod and camera outside,” the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government wrote in a recent blog post on the ordinance. “The ordinance states that the mayor has broad discretion to decide if an activity is disruptive.” Read more…