Open records and open meetings in Georgia

Wooden bookshelves ful to the brim with paper records.

Georgia’s Open Records Act and Open Meetings Act respectively codify the presumption that public records should be made available for public inspection without delay and that government agencies must hold the meetings of their governing bodies open for public observation.

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Online censorship: public officials blocking citizens on social media

Over the shoulder view of a person holding a smartphone with the Facebook app on the screen.

A critical mass of courts — including the three Circuit Court of Appeals to have so far addressed the issue — find that it constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment for a public official who operates an interactive social media account in their capacity as a state actor to deny individuals access to that account based on dislike of or disagreement with their speech.

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Protection of news sources in Georgia & the 11th Circuit

The forearms of reporters holding recording devices in front of a blurred out crowd.

Georgia’s Shield Law, most recently codified at O.C.G.A. § 24-5-508, and the qualified reporters’ privilege recognized by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (covering Georgia, Alabama and Florida) both protect journalists, in many instances, from being compelled as a third-party witness or from having to produce their work product as evidence in a legal proceeding as to which the journalist is not a party.

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Citizens’ right to record the police

A videocamera facing a large crowd.

Under the First Amendment, citizens have the right to record the police performing their duties in public. This right is essential to informing the public about police activity and holding government accountable for the actions of law enforcement.

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