Douglas City Council adopts Clinic’s recommendations for protecting free speech

Earlier this year, the City of Douglas in Coffee County, Georgia adopted new Rules of Procedure and Order (“Council Rules”) for  Board of Commissioner/City Council meetings and hearings.  Among other problematic aspects of these new Council Rules, they contained multiple provisions that afforded unfettered discretion to the Mayor as presiding officer – or the City…

Clinic files amicus brief in ACLU v. Zeh

On July 23, 2020, the First Amendment Clinic filed an amicus brief in the matter of ACLU v. Zeh urging the Georgia Supreme Court to correct a speech-chilling error that dangerously weakens First Amendment protections under Georgia’s anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) statute.  With the Clinic representing fellow amici curiae the Georgia First Amendment…

Lawyers partnering with journalists

First Amendment Clinic Director Clare R. Norins spoke with The Oconee Enterprise about the new clinic’s launch and the importance of lawyers and journalists working together to defend freedom of speech. “A free press is essential to a healthy democracy and ensures that discussion on matters of public concern is ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’” she…

First Amendment rights on campus

The First Amendment Clinic, partnering with UGA’s Office of Legal Affairs, hosted a class on June 19, 2020 for UGA faculty and staff focusing on campus free speech issues.  Offered through UGA’s Training & Development (T&D) Center and open to any UGA employee, the class explored the legal frameworks governing speech and expression rights for…

Norins speaks to local media regarding protest rights

First Amendment Clinic Director Clare R. Norins was featured on Fox 5 Atlanta regarding the differences between peaceful protest and civil disobedience.  “We have a long history of peaceful protests and demonstrations leading to social justice changes and reforms in our country.” Norins said. “The right to collectively assemble and voice disagreement with the status…

Clinic condemns detainment of journalist and staff photographer covering protests

Joining with a coalition of Georgia journalism organizations, the First Amendment Clinic condemns the detainment of freelance journalist Haisten Willis and Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff photographer Alyssa Pointer during May 31 and June 1, 2020 protests in Atlanta.  The Clinic has prepared a “Know Your Rights” document for journalists reporting on protests that provides information on…

Clinic urges ACC Board of Elections to provide effective public notice of Special Called meetings

The First Amendment Clinic sent a letter of concern to the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections regarding its failure to provide effective public notice for a special called meeting in March 2020.  The meeting included discussion and a Board vote on whether to retain outside counsel to defend the Board at an up-coming State Board…

Clinic wins settlement for Douglas County resident blocked from County Commissioner’s Facebook page (updated June 2020)

Douglas County, Georgia resident Brenda Bohanan was blocked from County Commissioner Kelly G. Robinson’s Facebook page after she posted comments in an online political discussion group that were critical of the Commissioner’s responses to his constituents’ concerns. Courts have consistently held that when government officials use online platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) to communicate with the…

UGA Law’s Ask-An-Expert webinar on “Facebook and Freedom”

First Amendment Clinic Director Clare R. Norins served on a three-professor webinar panel discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on First Amendment freedoms. A video-recording of the panel is available to members of the UGA Law School community.

Clinic fights for freedom of the press

Krass v. Obstacle Racing Media, LLC, et al., 19-cv-05785 (N.D. Ga.) The First Amendment Clinic is fighting to protect the press freedoms of independent journalist Matthew Davis.  Davis was sued for defamation after his news website Obstacle Racing Media, LLC (ORM) published a well-sourced article shining light on a pattern of alleged inappropriate conduct of a…