Thursday, July 07, 2016

Judge has misgivings about her charges against Ga. publisher and his lawyer; prosecutor drops them

"Three felony charges brought against the publisher of a local weekly newspaper and his attorney that were brought based on their efforts to see public documents" have been dismissed on motion of the prosecutor, reports Rhonda Cook of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The charges were brought by Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver when "she learned of the subpoenas for records from her office’s operating account and from another jurist," Cook reports. "She said in a letter attached to the dismissal that she had had second thoughts about pursing a case." Yesterday, the Georgia Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists filed a complaint against her. Weaver wrote, "I in no way want to diminish or infringe upon the First Amendment Rights we have."

Fannin Focus Publisher Mark Thomason and his attorney were "indicted, arrested and jailed overnight on June 24," Cook notes. "Thomason was charged with making a false statement in a request made under the Georgia Open Records Act for copies of checks drawn on the office accounts of two local judges that may have been 'cashed illegally.' Thomason and Stookey were charged with identify fraud and attempted identity fraud because the attorney secured subpoenas for bank records they wanted to present as evidence in a pending court matter over whether the two had to pay the legal fees of a court stenographer who had sued the newspaper man for defamation."

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