Editor's Note: The article was edited to include a comment from John Lanza's attorney regarding the blood alcohol content reading.
RARITAN TWP, NJ - A judge in Somerset County ruled Wednesday against Raritan Township in an OPRA lawsuit filed in September regarding the August DUI charges against Hunterdon County Freeholder John Lanza.
According to the records that have now been released to the public, after being taken to Hunterdon Medical Center Aug. 5, Lanza was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.34. He was subsequently charged with driving under the influence and reckless driving.
Lanza, on Monday, was found not guilty of driving while intoxicated, but he did plead guilty to a second charge of reckless driving, according to nj.com.
The OPRA suit was filed after the township failed to release a number of documents relating to the case, and those that were released were heavily redacted.
The case stems from an Aug. 5 incident in which Lanza was found slumped over the steering wheel of his black 2015 Ford Explorer around 5:30 p.m., according to police records. The SUV was pulled to the far right side of Milestone Drive in Raritan Township, and was running.
Lanza, the police report said, was unresponsive, and police broke the SUV’s front passenger window so they could reach him.
Regarding the report of Lanza's blood alcohol content, John Paul Velez, attorney for Lanza, said there were issues surrounding the collection of Lanza's blood sample and the scientific reliability of the blood reading, "which resulted in the blood reading not being admitted into evidence in the municipal court."
Lanza did not respond to a request for comment on the case.
The OPRA lawsuit against the township was brought by McGuillicutty & Schwartz, LLC, after only heavily redacted documents about the incident were released to the press.
Lanza’s attorney had said in a written statement that the documents weren’t being released in full because Lanza had suffered a medical emergency.
In her ruling on the case delivered Wednesday, the Hon. Yolanda Ciccone, in Somerville, said the township has violated OPRA by denying access to non-exempt portions of the government records in the case, and ordered them to be released within seven days with all the unlawful redactions removed.
Also submitted to the courts following the ruling Wednesday was a letter from Lanza’s attorney, Carl Taylor, with Carl Taylor Law in Flemington, seeking a stay on the released materials. In his letter, he said he had requested in December that there be a stay on the materials if the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
As of the ruling filed Wednesday, Taylor said, the unredacted or partially redacted materials have been added to ECourts and been made publicly available. Taylor requested that the materials be taken off ECourts and a letter be sent that the materials may not be used until Lanza has had a chance to file an appeal.
A response to that request had not been filed as of press time.
Editor's Note: McGuillicutty & Schwartz, LLC, is owned by former TAPinto franchisee Curtis Leeds.