Clinic presents to National College of Probate Judges

In November 2021, Clinic Director Clare Norins and Legal Fellow Samantha Hamilton presented to over 80 judges from around the country at the National College of Probate Judges 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. It spanned…

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. Adopting arguments presented in the First Amendment Clinic’s friend-of-the-court brief, the court held that the anti-SLAPP statute protects a speaker who…

Clinic students lead citizens’ training on open government laws

On September 30, 2021, First Amendment Clinic students Austin Albertson, Paige Medley, and Kyle Renner led a webinar training, hosted by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, on open government laws in Georgia. Attended by public employees, journalists, lawyers, and interested citizens, the webinar addressed the fundamentals of Georgia’s Open Records and Open Meetings Acts, as…

Clinic helps restore public comment at city council meetings

During the summer of 2021, residents of Greensboro, Georgia contacted the First Amendment Clinic about the public comment period at city council meetings having been indefinitely shut down in response to community members expressing their views about a controversial city official. The Clinic wrote to the Greensboro mayor and council members explaining that terminating public…

Clinic opposes expansion of Augusta panhandling ordinance

In July 2021 the First Amendment Clinic, in partnership with the National Homelessness Law Center, wrote to Augusta-Richmond County officials urging them to reject a proposed expansion of the County’s panhandling ordinance and to repeal the existing ordinance due to its unconstitutional targeting of protected speech. By “criminalizing the innocent act of requesting charity,” the…

Norins comments on students’ free speech rights post-Mahanoy

The following guest column by Clinic director Clare R. Norins was published in  the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 28, 2021: On June 23, 2021, the Supreme Court issued an 8-to-1 decision in Mahanoy v. B.L., ruling for the first time on whether public schools can constitutionally regulate off-campus student speech. The court held that Pennsylvania…

Brechner Center highlights Clinic’s analysis of state agency “gag policies”

A June 2021 Report by the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information highlighted the Clinic’s analysis finding that more than 20 Georgia state agencies have formal policies that restrain their employees’ speech in constitutionally questionable ways. Twelve agencies categorically forbid anyone but a public-relations spokesperson from speaking to news media and nine…

Norins presents on “Police & the Press: News Coverage of Protests”

On May 6, 2021, the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, in partnership with the Society of Professional Journalists, Georgia Chapter and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, hosted a virtual panel discussion on Police & the Press: News Coverage of Protests (video). The panel featured Clinic director Clare R. Norins who spoke about the take-aways from journalists…

Clinic receives national CLEA award for excellence

Photo: First Amendment Clinic director Clare R. Norins and law fellow Samantha Hamilton (right) with Community HeLP Clinic staff attorney Kristen Shepherd and director Jason A. Cade (left) UGA Law School’s First Amendment Clinic, along with UGA’s Community HeLP Clinic and four other clinics from Harvard, Columbia, Texas A&M, and Boston University, were chosen as…