Georgia

B. Protection of undercover officers or witnesses

Overview

Georgia

Generally, the desires of the witnesses do not affect whether a proceeding will be closed. See Morris Communications LLC v. Griffin, 279 Ga. 735 (2005). However, the Court of Appeals of Georgia in Lowe v. State, 141 Ga. App. 433, 436-37 (1977), found no abuse of discretion of the trial court in its exclusion of spectators during the testimony of one witness who was in “fear of possible harm” because of testimony to be given.

8. Other bodies to which governmental or public functions are delegated.

The Georgia courts will open meetings of groups or organizations to which governmental functions have been delegated. In Red & Black Publishing Co. v. Board of Regents, 262 Ga. 848, 427 S.E.2d 257 (1993), the Georgia Supreme Court opened the meetings of a student committee which had been delegated its disciplinary responsibilities by the University of Georgia. See also, Jersawitz v. Fortson, 213 Ga. App. 796, 446 S.E.2d 206 (1994) (Act applies to any entity which is "a vehicle" for an agency to carry out its responsibilities.) But cf. Corp. of Mercer Univ. v.

2. Criminal contempt

Since enactment of Georgia's statutory privilege, an order compelling testimony from a non-party reporter has never been upheld on appeal. Accordingly, there are no recent examples of a reporter being held in criminal contempt for continuing to refuse to testify after appeal. In instances of criminal contempt, Georgia courts are authorized by statute to impose a sentence of a fine of no more than $500 and/or incarceration of no more than 20 days in jail. O.C.G.A. § 15-7-4.

3. Student records.

Student records are subject to the Act’s disclosure requirements except where federal law requires nondisclosure.  See Red & Black Publishing Co. v. Bd. of Regents, 262 Ga. 848, 427 S.E.2d 257 (1993).

C. Court-derived exclusions, common law prohibitions, recognized privileges against disclosure.

Under the Act, agencies are not required to disclose records "which by order of a court of this state . . . are prohibited or specifically exempted from being open to inspection by the general public." O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70(b). Initially, this language was interpreted as affording courts broad discretion in particular cases to craft judicial exemptions to the Act by balancing the perceived public interest in non-disclosure against the public interest in disclosure. See, e.g., Northside Realty Ass'n v. Community Relations Comm'n, 240 Ga.

3. To set aside decision.

The Act provides that any suit contesting an action taken by an agency in alleged violation of the Act must be commenced within 90 days of the date the contested action was taken. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(b). See Walker v. City of Warner Robbins, 262 Ga. 551, 422 S.E.2d 555 (1992) (relief not available under the Act because suit was commenced more than 90 days after agency action).

C. Limitations on use of footage

Overview

Georgia

Generally in the superior and state courts of Georgia, the judge may exercise discretion and require pooled coverage, which would allow only one still photographer, one television camera and attendant, and one radio or tape recorder outlet and attendant to cover the proceeding. U.S.C.R. 22 (c). Audio recordings of the jury foreperson's announcement of the verdict, statements or questions to the judge may be made, though there are some limitations on use of pictures of the jury. U.S.C.R. 22(I).

1. Regular meetings.

The Act requires agencies to state the time, place and dates of its regular meetings. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(d).

C. Third-party subpoenas

Under Georgia law, third parties receiving a notice for production of documents or a subpoena for production of documents have an opportunity to object. See, e.g., O.C.G.A. §§ 9-11-34(c)(1); 9-11-45(a)(2). Credit card companies, telephone companies and internet service providers, thus, can object to such subpoenas where they are issued in an effort to identify a client news organization's confidential sources or other privileged information.