Georgia publisher jailed after filing open records request
Perhaps the proper response to this is off with her law license!
"A North Georgia newspaper publisher was indicted on a felony charge and jailed overnight last week – for filing an open-records request.
Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, along with his attorney Russell Stookey, were arrested on Friday and charged with attempted identity fraud and identity fraud. Thomason was also accused of making a false statement in his records request.
Thomason’s relentless pursuit of public records relating to the local Superior Court has incensed the court’s chief judge, Brenda Weaver, who also chairs the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Weaver took the matter to the district attorney, who obtained the indictments.
Thomason was charged June 24 with making a false statement in an open-records request in which he asked for copies of checks “cashed illegally.” Thomason and Stookey were also charged with identity fraud and attempted identity fraud because they did not get Weaver’s approval before sending subpoenas to banks where Weaver and another judge maintained accounts for office expenses. Weaver suggested that Thomason may have been trying to steal banking information on the checks.
But Thomason said he was “doing his job” when he asked for records.
“I was astounded, in disbelief that there were even any charges to be had,” said Thomason, 3i79 (sic), who grew up in Fannin County. “I take this as a punch at journalists across the nation that if we continue to do our jobs correctly, then we have to live in fear of being imprisoned.”
Thomason and Stookey are out on $10,000 bond and have a long list of things they cannot do or things they must do to avoid going to jail until their trials. On Thursday, for example, Thomason reported to a pretrial center and was told that he may have to submit to a random drug test – a condition of the bond on which he was released from jail last Saturday.
Alison Sosebee, district attorney in the three counties in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and Judge Weaver say the charges are justified. Weaver said she resented Thomason’s attacks on her character in his weekly newspaper and in conversations with her constituents.
“I don’t react well when my honesty is questioned,” Weaver said."
The Red Queen always reacts poorly to attacks on her character, credibility, and honesty, "Off with their heads!" I enjoy the comedy bit about the random drug testing being justified. Drug testing because someone filed a public records request? This does not pass any known sniff test.
"She said others in the community were using Thomason to get at her. “It’s clear this is a personal vendetta against me,” she said. “I don’t know how else to explain that.'"
Oh, right, it's a conspiracy, a personal vendetta. It really looks a whole lot like a newspaper publisher using a public records law to obtain public records. And the Red Queen's reaction makes it look like the publisher had good reason to request the records. What are you hiding chief judge Red Queen?
"But legal experts expressed dismay at the punitive use of the Open Records Act.
“To the extent these criminal charges stem from the use of the Open Records Act undermines the entire purpose of the law,” said Hollie Manheimer, executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. “The Open Records Act is the vehicle by which citizens access governmental information… Retaliation for use of the Open Records Act will inhibit every citizen from using it, and reel us back into the dark ages.'"
This is the point, the Red Queen should not be subject to such laws, laws are for the little people.
"Another expert said the charges against attorney Russell Stookey may also be unfounded. Robert Rubin, president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said it was wrong for the grand jury to indict a lawyer who “is using the legitimate court process for a subpoena to get records relevant for his case.” The dispute grows out of a March 2015 incident involving another judge who is no longer on the bench. Judge Roger Bradley was presiding over several cases and asked the name of the next defendant. The assistant district attorney announced next up was “(Racial slur) Ray.” Bradley, who resigned earlier this year, repeated the slur and also talked about another man whose street name started with the same slur.
Thomason asked for the transcript after he was told courtroom deputies also used the slur."
The Red Queen runs the local cesspit, apparently.
Giving a small person like the Red Queen any amount of power is a very bad idea. The next step is for the Georgia State Bar to hold disbarment hearings, and then disbar this judge. She is simply unfit to practice law or act as a judge.
Hat tip: Instapundit