Georgia

11. Mug shots.

Mug shots are subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements.

A. Shield law statute

In Georgia, the reporter's privilege is recognized by statute, which states:

Any person, company, or other entity engaged in the gathering or dissemination of news for the public through a newspaper, book, magazine, or radio or television broadcast shall have a qualified privilege against disclosure of any information, document, or item obtained or prepared in the gathering or dissemination of news in any proceeding where the one asserting the privilege is not a party, unless it is shown that this privilege has been waived or that what is sought:

Title page/author info

Peter C. Canfield, Esq.
Thomas M. Clyde, Esq.
Dow, Lohnes PLLC
Six Concourse Parkway
Suite 1800
Atlanta, Georgia 30328-6117
(770) 901-8800

5. Have agencies imposed prohibitive fees to discourage requesters?

In Trammell v. Martin, 200 Ga. App. 435, 408 S.E.2d 477 (1991), a Georgia county government attempted to bill an individual citizen almost $2,300 for copying fees and $90 an hour for legal review of the documents. The court held that the requester may not be required to pay for legal review and ordered that the copies be billed at the cost of what would have been the most economical method of copying. See also McFrugal Rental v. Garr, 262 Ga.

b. Mandatory or discretionary closure.

The Act does not require closure of any meetings. It merely permits closure in certain circumstances, provided a majority of the quorum vote to do so. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-4(a). See Steele v. Honea, 261 Ga. 644, 647, 409 S.E.2d 652 (1991) (Fletcher, J., concurring) (because violation of the Act may be grounds for recall from office, "if there is the slightest doubt, or any question whatsoever, as to whether a matter can be the subject of a closed meeting, DO NOT CLOSE").

D. The source's rights and interests

Georgia law does not recognize a cause of action for a reporter's breach of an agreement with a source in the absence of evidence that the resulting publication was false. See generally Raskin v. Swann, 216 Ga. App. 478 (1995).

S. Vital statistics.

Information as to the availability of Georgia vital records is detailed by the Georgia Office of Vital Records on its website at http://health.state.ga.us/programs/vitalrecords/.

I. Defamation actions

Georgia's statutory privilege does not apply in cases where a reporter is a party, but other provisions of Georgia law afford protection to reporters. In Atlanta Journal-Constitution v. Jewell, 251 Ga. App. 808, 813 (2001), cert. denied. 2002 Ga. Lexis 103 (2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S.

a. Bodies receiving public funds or benefits.

Any entity, business or organization that serves a public function, including any non-profit entity, is subject to the Act's requirements. See, e.g., Northwest Ga. Health Sys. v. Times-Journal, 218 Ga. App. 336, 340, 461 S.E.2d 297 (1995) (nonprofit entities operating "as vehicles for public agencies" are subject to the Act regardless of the amount of funding they receive from the public); see also Hackworth v. Board of Ed., 214 Ga. App.