LAWNSIDE – A government overseer has won an 18-month battle to obtain public documents here, defeating district officials and Supreme Court justices against the opposition.

Erwin Mears began his battle in July 2019 when he requested invoices submitted by attorneys held in the area for inquiries made under the Open Public Records Act.

“I wanted to find out how much money they were spending so I wouldn’t get the records,” said Mears, a founding member of the Lawnside Homeowners Association, a group that seeks more control over local authorities.

But Marshal Wright, a district clerk, approved attorney and client privileges and presented heavily edited invoices, said Lloyd Henderson, a Cherry Hill attorney representing Mears.

“You couldn’t get anything out of it,” said Henderson, who noted that the blackened invoices did not contain details of the work done by the district’s OPRA attorney.

Open Records activist Erwin Mears won an 18-month fight to see attorney's bills filed in the Lonside area.

Mears then sued the district, calling his claim on the privileges of a lawyer and a client a “fake.”

But the trial only led to a second failure.

Supreme Court Justice Deborah Silverman Katz ruled that the invoices “absolutely contain lawyer and client information.” She considered Lowside’s version to be “correct” and dismissed Mircea’s lawsuit in March 2020.

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