Posted: Monday, July 23rd 2012 at 12:09pm
Cumming responds to attorney general's lawsuit
By Katie Crumley Access Insider
ATLANTA - The City of Cumming has filed a response to the lawsuit filed against them by the Georgia Attorney General's Office for alleged violations of the state's open meetings law, which says visual and sound recording is allowed during open meetings.
According to the suit, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt ordered Cumming resident Nydia Tisdale to stop taping in April and had her and the camera forcibly removed from the room.
The City of Cumming filed their response to the lawsuit on Thursday, denying a large number of allegations made against Mayor Gravitt.
The lawsuit references two YouTube videos one by Tisdale, the other by the city. In both, Gravitt can be seen and heard instructing a police officer to remove the camera from the room. Tisdale can also be heard telling the mayor that she's exercising her rights under Georgia law and telling the police officer to take his hands off of her.
The lawsuit says Gravitt violated Georgia's open meetings law on two separate occasions, first by forcibly removing Tisdale's video camera and, second, by ordering Tisdale to stop recording the meeting with her phone.
The lawsuit marks the first time the attorney general's office has used provisions enacted by an overhaul of the state open meetings law that allow it to seek civil penalties not just criminal penalties against government officials that violate the law.
The court may impose a civil fine of up to $1,000 for a first violation by a government official and an additional fine of up to $2,500 for each additional violation within a 12-month period of when the first penalty is imposed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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