Clinic asks Georgia Supreme Court to affirm voters’ right to petition

Photo: Cumberland Island National Seashore In Camden County v. Sweatt, the First Amendment Clinic filed an amicus brief asking the Georgia Supreme Court to affirm Georgians’ constitutional petition-and-referendum power to veto legislative decisions by their county commissioners that go against the will of the people they were elected to represent. This is an issue of…

Clinic goes on the road to conduct 1A trainings

The First Amendment Clinic conducted a record number of trainings during the Spring 2022 semester. Photo: Ruthie Owen (2L) and Lindsey Floyd (fellow) April 2022 Georgia Scholastic Press Association Workshop Partnering with the Georgia Scholastic Press Association and The Red & Black student newspaper at UGA, we spoke on three separate occasions to groups of…

Court rejects Camden County Sheriff’s qualified immunity arguments meaning Clinic’s retaliatory prosecution case moves forward

Rejecting the Camden County Sheriff Office’s qualified immunity defenses, federal district court Judge Lisa G. Wood ruled on March 11, 2022 that claims of First Amendment retaliation, malicious prosecution, and deliberate indifference in hiring may proceed through discovery. Read the Court’s decision. The case arises from a 2018 phone call that the Clinic’s client Mrs….

Norins and Peters moderate libel law panel for Bar Media & Judiciary Conference

DISINFORMATION AND POLARIZATION: IS LIBEL LAW A CAUSE AND/OR A CURE? On February 25, 2022, Clinic Director Clare Norins and UGA Professor Jonathan Peters moderated a panel discussion with Nora Benavidez (Free Press), Tom Clare (Clare Locke), and Lee Levine (retired from Ballard Spahr) about the benefits and challenges of using libel actions to combat…

Public access to the courts – first of its kind guide in Georgia

The First Amendment Clinic has collaborated with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation to create a first-of-its-kind guide to accessing state and federal court records and proceedings in Georgia. Referred to as the “Yellow Book,” the guide is organized by type of court and type of access. It uses a digestible question-and-answer format that allows readers…

Clinic defends independent journalist accused of defamation

  Krass v. Obstacle Racing Media, LLC, et al., 19-cv-05785 (N.D. Ga.) The First Amendment Clinic and pro bono counsel from BakerHostetler are fighting to protect the press freedoms of independent journalist Matthew Davis. Davis was sued in late 2019 for defamation after his news website Obstacle Racing Media, LLC (ORM) published a well-sourced article shining…

Improving public access to government

On December 17, 2021 the Clinic partnered with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation to lead training on Georgia’s Open Records Act and Open Meetings Act for town and county government officials gathered in Hiawassee, Georgia. The presentation also included social media “do’s and don’ts” for officials who use Facebook, Twitter, and similar accounts to communicate…

Clinic presents to National College of Probate Judges

In November 2021, Clinic director Clare R. Norins and legal fellow Samantha C. Hamilton presented to over 80 members of the National College of Probate Judges at their annual fall conference held in Savannah, Georgia. The presentation addressed what judges can do in response to unwarranted public criticism, consistent with judicial ethics rules. Norins and…

Clinic files lawsuit on behalf of photojournalist arrested during Summer 2020 protests

On November 8, 2021, the First Amendment Clinic filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of photojournalist Sharif Hassan who was arrested, and his work product was seized, while he was filming protests in Atlanta following the murder of George Floyd. The case is co-counseled with Atlanta-based civil rights attorneys Gerry Weber and Leigh Finlayson. Press…

Amicus win in Georgia Supreme Court under anti-SLAPP statute

On October 19, 2021, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a decision in ACLU v. Zeh giving full force and effect to the free-speech protections codified by Georgia’s anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) statute. Consistent with arguments presented in the First Amendment Clinic’s friend-of-the-court brief, Georgia’s highest court held that the anti-SLAPP statute protects a…