Georgia

3. Filing of affidavit

Georgia law does not require the filing of an affidavit prior to issuing a subpoena to a reporter.

L. Hospital reports.

The Act specifically provides that, unless otherwise exempted by law, hospital authority records are public records. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(c)(1). See, e.g., Northwest Ga. Health Sys. v. Times-Journal, 218 Ga. App. 336, 461 S.E.2d 297 (1995) (private company that operates public hospital is a "vehicle" of hospital authority and thus subject to Act); Richmond County Hosp. Auth. v. Southeastern Newspapers Corp., 252 Ga.

9. Availability of court costs and attorneys' fees.

In any successful action to enforce the Act, the court must award attorney fees and reasonable litigation expenses if the court determines that the violation was "without substantial justification" and no special circumstances exist. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-5(b). See, e.g., Slaughter v. Brown, 269 Ga. App. 211, 603 S.E.2d 706 (2004) (lack of bad faith does not support a finding of special circumstances sufficient to decrease the award of litigation costs); Evans Cty. Board of Comm'rs. v. Claxton Enter., 255 Ga, App.

b. Notice requirements.

The Act's notice requirements do not distinguish between open and closed meetings. The Act explicitly provides that meetings during which an agency is discussing the future acquisition of real estate are subject to the Act's notice requirements. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(4).

2. Legislative bodies.

The Act applies to all governmental bodies or other entities that serve a "public function," legislative or otherwise. See Jersawitz v. Fortson., 213 Ga. App. 796, 446 S.E.2d 206 (1994) (applying related Open Meetings Act to Olympic Task Force Selection Committee) The Act specifically exempts from its disclosure requirements privileged and confidential official communications with the Office of Legislative Counsel, O.C.G.A.

A. In general

Overview

Georgia

The Georgia Supreme Court has reiterated that open judicial proceedings in civil cases are an integral part of our democratic form of government. “Public access protects litigants both present and future. Our system abhors star chamber proceedings with good reason. Like a candle, court records hidden under a bushel make scant contribution to their purpose.” Atlanta Journal v. Long, 258 Ga. 410, 411 (1988). Georgia courts have recognized that “[t]he function of a free press is just as important in civil cases as in criminal cases.” Munoz v.

F. Addressing government suits against disclosure.

Public agencies are authorized to go to court within the three day response period seeking an order "based on an exception" to the Act permitting non-disclosure of the requested records. This is unusual and Georgia civil procedure would require notice to the requester.

5. Briefing schedule

Pursuant to Uniform Superior Court Rule 6.2, unless otherwise ordered, a party opposing a motion shall serve and file a response not later than 30 days after service of the motion.

6. Compilations of criminal histories.

Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) or other state, federal, or international criminal history compilations is exempt from disclosure, except for any portion of a history containing Georgia felony convictions, which must be disclosed.  When a criminal history record is in a closed investigatory case file, it is subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements.

G. Are there sanctions for noncompliance?

Anyone who "knowingly and willfully" conducts or participates in a meeting without complying with every part of the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-6. Additionally, in any enforcement action in which the court determines that an agency acted without substantial justification in not complying with the Act, the court shall, unless it finds that special circumstances exist, award reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs to the complaining party. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-5(b). See, e.g., Slaughter v. Brown, 269 Ga. App.