UPDATE: Open meeting video violation court date postponed

Mayor had ordered halt to taping Cumming council meeting



EDITOR'S NOTE April 11, 2013 On April 8, Judge Adamson suffered a minor heart attack. He is doing well, but the hearing April 17 was canceled and will be rescheduled.

CUMMING, Ga. — A year after being told she couldn’t video record a city of Cumming meeting, Nydia Tisdale will be in court as argument on the possible violation of the open meetings law takes place.

Superior Court of Forsyth County Senior Judge Robert W. Adamson was going to hear the state Attorney General’s case on the one-year anniversary of the alleged violation — however, due to a heart attack April 8, the hearing will be rescheduled. A new date has yet to be set.

“I’m so glad the case if finally coming to court,” Tisdale told the Forsyth Herald.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Stefan Ritter had said he did not think the issue would have been brought to court.

“They’ve got no case in our view,” Ritter said earlier this year.

The city had tried, unsuccessfully, to dismiss the case. Tisdale and her camera were escorted out of Cumming City Hall last year after Mayor H. Ford Gravitt told Cumming Police Chief Casey Tatum to stop Tisdale from recording their regular meeting.

For the city's part, they say Tisdale, a Roswell resident, was “causing a safety hazard” because she put her tripod in the middle of the aisle.

"We don't allow filming inside of the City Hall unless there's a specific reason," Gravitt said at the time.

But according to Georgia House Bill 397, ironically signed by Gov. Nathan Deal that very day, April 17, "The public at all times shall be afforded access to meetings declared open to the public. Visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted."

In fact, the law had always allowed for the public to record meetings, but the bill simply solidified these rights.

The Georgia Attorney General's Office and Tisdale have pending lawsuits against the city over the incident.

If found in violation the city could face $6,000 in fines and many thousands more in attorneys’ fees. Tisdale also has filed a federal lawsuit seeking punitive damages. A date has not yet been set for this case.

This article was published in the Forsyth Herald April 10, 2013 edition

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