Publisher of Georgia newspaper faces criminal charges over records request

While NJFOG generally posts New Jersey news, sometimes news from other states is worth sharing. This is one such example.

A newspaper publisher in northern Georgia and his attorney have been indicted on charges stemming from use of the state’s Open Public Records Act. The matter concerns a 2015 court incident in which a racial slur was used by another now-former judge, by the assistant district attorney, and allegedly by courtroom deputies as well. The publisher’s claim of omissions in the court transcript pertaining to use of the term drew a $1.6M lawsuit from the court stenographer, who dropped her case but is now seeking legal fees that reportedly have been paid already from the former judge’s operating account. A request by the publisher’s attorney for checks demonstrating those payments is in part what drew the ire of the court’s chief judge, who said that the identity fraud allegations against the publisher stemmed from her concern about possible misuse of banking information on the checks.

Hollie Manheimer, executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation is quoted as saying:

“To the extent these criminal charges stem from the use of the Open Records Act undermines the entire purpose of the law. The Open Records Act is the vehicle by which citizens access governmental information… Retaliation for use of the Open Records Act will inhibit every citizen from using it…”


North Georgia newspaper publisher jailed over open records request
By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Updated: July 1, 2016 | Posted: June 30, 2016