Monday, April 22, 2013

OPRA Request for Montville Public Library Records to Determine Possible Ethical Violations and Malpractice by Ann Grossi, Library Attorney and Morris County Freeholder

Ann Grossi, Esq.
Dear Montville Township Committee (via Township Clerk Trudy Atkinson),

I am Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries, Chatham, NJ.  I will soon write to you about the Montville Patch story containing misinformation that the Montville Public Library must allow porn viewing:

But first, with this letter I am hereby filing a FOIA/OPRA request for records relating to the Montville Public Library that could be in the possession of the library or the Montville government or its contractees generally, specifically any material, including publicly available legal advice, regarding public library Internet filtering, the First Amendment related to the library, the Children's Internet Protection Act, E-Rate funding, or reported instances of pornography or inappropriate material viewing in the Montville Public Library within the past two years and any official action taken in response, whether received formally or informally, from Morris County Freeholder Ann Grossi who is also the library's attorney, or from any other person who made records of the substance of their communications with Ann Grossi on said subjects, such as the Mayor, limiting records from said persons other than Ann Grossi to only those records regarding Ann Grossi that are related to said issues.

In short, I'm looking to see if Ann Grossi has advised the library on library computer filtering, pornography, the First Amendment, etc., and what are the contents of that advice, limited to about the last two years to the present.

I base this request on a number of factors:
  1. Ann Grossi has in the past misled another Morris County, NJ, community regarding pornography in its public library, and she did that as the Roxbury Public Library's attorney and Morris County Freeholder.  See, for the reliable sources contained therein:  "Turning the Tide on Library Porn; Predicted Excuses for Not Filtering All Library Computers," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 7 August 2011.
  2. It appears Ann Grossi may be misleading another Morris County community, yours, again as the library's attorney and Morris County Freeholder.  The Montville Patch story reports,  "Mayor Tim Braden noted that ... the library cannot entirely restrict patrons from looking at pornography ... as it would be considered restricting their rights."  That is false.  United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003):  "public libraries' use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights....  ....  Most libraries already exclude pornography from their print collections because they deem it inappropriate for inclusion.  We do not subject these decisions to heightened scrutiny; it would make little sense to treat libraries' judgments to block online pornography any differently, when these judgments are made for just the same reason."  It is possible that Mayor Braden has been misled by library attorney Ann Grossi, just as she misled others in the past.  People do not naturally assume the First Amendment requires public libraries to allow porn on their computers—just the opposite.  It is possible that false and/or misleading legal advice caused Mayor Braden to set aside the obvious assumption and believe instead that the library may not stop patrons from viewing porn.  Ann Grossi is in a position to provide Mayor Braden with the misinformation needed for him to set aside the law, common sense, and community standards to condone porn in the public library.
  3. As a NJ attorney, I have an ethical obligation to report possible legal malpractice or ethical violations under RPC 8.3 Reporting Professional Misconduct: "(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other res
    Ann Grossi's erroneous advice that blocking porn in
    a public library is a First Amendment violation,
    as displayed on News 12 New Jersey.
    pects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority."  Regarding Ann Grossi's erroneous advice to the Roxbury library that goes against the US Supreme Court holding, that was about two years ago and may have been simple error.  If, however, after two years has passed and after Ann Grossi said the Roxbury library was reviewing its policies and practices in response to News 12 New Jersey's inquiries, if Ann Grossi has provided Montville with substantially the same false legal advice as she provided to Roxbury, then any honest mistake in the past has been converted into an intentional effort to mislead.  I may be under an ethical obligation to report Ann Grossi's actions to the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.  This FOIA/OPRA request is intended to obtain the best information possible so any filing with the NJ OAE I may make is as accurate and reliably sourced as possible.
  4. This matter may be in the public interest as Ann Grossi is currently a Morris County Freeholder who is now seeking office as Morris County Clerk and has said, "My legal background would be a benefit."  If her legal background includes unethical activity or legal malpractice, that is entirely relevant to all Morris County citizens who may vote for her and her "legal background."  See: "Grossi Running for County Clerk: 'I'm Taking a Risk'; Montville Library Board Attorney Steps Away From County Freeholder Board to Make a Bid for Clerk's Position," by Natalie Davis, Montville Patch, 7 January 2013.  
  5. The harm done, if any, extends to a number of Morris County communities and negatively impacts the children the most.  Those children have no advocates who speak for them.  If false information that prevents children from being protected in public libraries is exposed to the light and removed, suddenly the entire community will become advocates for the children, and public libraries in Morris County will see a big reduction in the number of incidents related to the viewing of pornography.  On the chance there is any question that people are being misled into leaving their children exposed to harm in public libraries as a result of unfiltered pornography that could be legally curtailed, please read what the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act said:  "CIPA Author Exposes ALA Deception; Ernest Istook Who Authored Children's Internet Protection Act Calls Out American Library Association for Using Legal Tactics to Claim First Amendment Protection for Public Library Pornography Viewing, Causing Librarians to Be Indifferent and Leave Children Unprotected," by Dan KleinmanSafeLibraries, 27 February 2012.
Supplying said records as PDF attachments to an email addressed to will be adequate, as well as photocopies sent to SafeLibraries, 641 Shunpike Rd #123, Chatham NJ 07928, 973-610-8296, $50 maximum automatic authorization.  Please advise what additional requirements I must fulfill to receive a substantive response to this FOIA/OPRA request.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dan Kleinman
641 Shunpike Rd #123
Chatham NJ 07928


Here is the response to the OPRA request received 24 April, so I am evaluating if this means I can go ahead with filing the ethics complaint:
I am in receipt of your e-mail dated April 22, 2013 and note the OPRA request contained within your message (the OPRA form is blank).  I am the records custodian for the Township of Montville.  The Montville Township Public Library is an autonomous body and not a department of the Township.  I am not the records custodian for the Montville Township Public Library.  Your request seeks documents related to the library, and your request would perhaps be better directed to the Montville Township Public Library.  I can advise you that the records you seek, specifically a legal opinion issued by Counsel for the Montville Township Public Library on the issue of pornography in the Library, is not a record maintained by the Township of Montville.
In a related matter, I have published the following:


As a result of the above OPRA response from Montville, I sent a letter directly to the library.  See:

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