Thomas J. Cafferty, who leads the highly respected Media Law Team at Gibbons, has played a significant role in shaping New Jersey’s laws regarding government transparency and public access – those governing electronic devices in the courtroom and access to judicial and government records. He has extensive experience litigating and counseling on First Amendment and media issues and handles some of the most complex and significant matters relating to these issues in New Jersey, addressing, for example:
- cameras in the courtroom;
- invasion of privacy and defamation;
- crisis management;
- the Shield Law;
- the Open Public Meetings Act; and
- public notice.
Mr. Cafferty represents trade organizations, including the New Jersey Press Association, daily and weekly newspapers, media personalities, and media insurance companies, as well as clients throughout the business community who face First Amendment or media challenges.
Areas of Focus
At a time when media outlets are rapidly increasing in number, adapting to continuously upgraded technologies, and evolving in ways unforeseen even a few years ago, the demand to help clients address media-related issues continues to expand. Mr. Cafferty offers exceptional service and focus to media industry clients attempting to operate within this new landscape. He recently chaired a sub-committee of the New Jersey Supreme Court Bench Bar Media Committee that issued a critical report, ultimately adopted by the full Committee, recommending major changes in the current Guidelines of the Supreme Court regulating the use of electronic devices (such as cameras, laptops, and cell phones) in courtrooms. Mr. Cafferty has served as General Counsel for the New Jersey Press Association for close to 40 years and has worked with some of the largest news organizations and newspapers throughout the state. Additionally, he served as an Adjunct Professor of Communications Law for the Rutgers School of Communication and Information for more than a decade.
First Amendment Law
Mr. Cafferty served on a New Jersey Supreme Court Committee that prepared a comprehensive report that formed the basis for revisions to the court rule governing access to judicial records and was instrumental in drafting the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA), which replaced the former inadequate Right To Know Law. He addresses First Amendment issues for a wide range of clients, including those within a broader business community that are adapting to such issues within a rapidly evolving new media environment. For example, in a highly publicized case in recent years, Mr. Cafferty successfully obtained a settlement on behalf of a law firm that required a disgruntled former associate to take down a website dedicated to mocking his former firm.
Eminent Domain Law
During the course of his career, Mr. Cafferty has represented numerous public entities, including the Township of Franklin (Somerset County), the Township of North Brunswick, the Township of Montgomery (Special Counsel Eminent Domain), the Borough of Milltown, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (Special Counsel Eminent Domain). In each engagement, Mr. Cafferty has represented the public entity in the acquisition of properties for various public projects. For example, he represented the Township of Franklin in the acquisition of numerous parcels related to the construction of a major road opening an area of the Township to significant commercial development.
Rutgers School of Law - Newark (J.D.)
Rutgers University (B.A.)
State of New Jersey
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Supreme Court of the United States
New Jersey State Bar Association
Chair, Media Law Committee,
New Jersey State Privacy Study Commission
New Jersey Supreme Court Media Relations Committee
Martin Committee of Supreme Court
Reviews and advises the Supreme Court on a policy governing commercial filming in court facilities.
New Jersey Supreme Court Defamation Working Group (1984 Judicial Conference)
Former Adjunct Professor, Communications Law, Rutgers School of Communications, Information and Library Sciences
New Jersey Supreme Court Special Committee on Public Access to Court Records