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Open Records Act top priority for delegation as new faces join local Legislature

Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 7:28 PM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014 2:05 AM
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Arrest reports and booking mug shots long obtained by media outlets could be restricted from public access at the recommendation of two Au­­gus­ta legislators.

Sens. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, and Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, were two of five senators on the Expunge­ment Reform Study Com­mit­tee, established last year to protect the wrongly accused or convicted from the life-changing impact such reports can have.

Among its recommendations, which Davis said he expects the Legis­la­ture to take up this year, is amending the Geor­gia Open Records Act to exclude “information gathered in a suspect’s initial booking following arrest, including mug shot photos, from the type of records that must be disclosed.”

David Hudson, an attorney for the Geor­gia Press Asso­­ciation and The Au­gusta Chronicle, said restricting public access to arrest reports “resembles practices in a police state, where
information and identities of those arrested are not made available to the public.”

Withholding from the public knowledge of who has been arrested and on what grounds “would remove great safeguards for individual citizens, and for effective oversight on how police authorities and jailers perform their duties,” Hudson said.

When the General Assem­bly convenes Monday, state Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, will be one of two Republican senators on the Augusta delegation. Jackson and Stone had their districts drawn into Augusta-Richmond County by the GOP-dominated Legislature.

The Augusta delegation also includes newcomer Brian Prince, D-Augusta, elected to replace Rep. Quincy Murphy, who died last year. Democrats Wayne Howard, Earnest Smith and Gloria Frazier and Republican Barbara Sims are also in the delegation.

Davis said he expects the Legislature to take immediate action on an issue that directly impacts Augusta: the date of the state general primary.

After a Republican-led fight, city nonpartisan races were moved to the primary date, typically in July.

After a federal judge moved the state federal primary to May 20, state leaders said they intend to move the general primary to the same date.

Until they do so, Augusta voters and candidates, including Davis, who is running for mayor, won’t know for certain when the election will be held.

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Austin Rhodes
2998
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/12/14 - 12:14 am
2
8
Unconstitutional...

Plain and simple. Un-frigging-constitutional.

Shame on Hardie Davis and Jesse Stone for this silliness.

thauch12
7076
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thauch12 01/12/14 - 12:36 am
5
4
Good!

I hope this puts an end to garbage publications like the Jail Report. This is the 21st century equivalent to putting folks in stockades...never mind that whole idea of "innocent until proven guilty."

Add to it, many of these third-party sites essentially blackmail people into paying them exorbitant amounts of money to remove these pictures. It's silliness and it must come to an end.

JRC2024
10520
Points
JRC2024 01/12/14 - 09:58 am
4
2
Good for you Mr. Davis and

Good for you Mr. Davis and Mr. Stone. I have always thought that plastering someone's picture and blasting their name across the airwaves was not a good idea. What if a mistake was made in the arrest, a lie was told by the accuser, or just plain out bad investigative work. Thjat person's life is turned upside down and you can bet the same people doing the broadcasting or publishing will not spend as much time telling everyone that that person was not guilty. The attorneys were paid and life goes on for them without problems but not the accused. There will always be that small amount of doubt by all others. Not fair to the accused.

Austin Rhodes
2998
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/12/14 - 10:39 am
2
1
So let's see...

...if the Sheriff gets accused of fixing tickets....the Coroner is accused of stealing from the dead...the tax commissioner is investigated for what amounts to embezzlement...or teachers/principals accused of diddling students...NONE OF IT gets reported until there is a conviction?

OH...and under "equal protection"...don't say that politicians and cops and teachers don't count under these new "protections".

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11293
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/12/14 - 11:25 am
1
1
Amazing

Jesse Stone ignores the requests from his constituents then sponsors a bill like this... It's time for a change. I do believe he'll be seriously challenged in the next election.

whocarestoday
305
Points
whocarestoday 01/12/14 - 02:09 pm
3
1
Good

Does posting a person's mug shot all over the place really serve a purpose other than humiliating that person? Does it deter them from committing more crimes? Have crime rates gone down? The jail report and the like are bullies. They make money off of people who are at a low time in their life. Instead of purchasing this trash ( or listening to it) maybe we should get more involved with our community and try to build people up instead of tearing them down.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/12/14 - 02:44 pm
1
1
There's got to be a
Unpublished

There's got to be a compromise. The posting of arrest records, as I see often in the forums, elicits many posts of opinions, mostly assuming that the arrested is guilty and voicing plenty of options for his disposal. That POSSIBLY (I don't have any stats to say otherwise) could influence potential jurors. I have little faith that jurors really go into a high profile case and act in a neutral fashion, O.J's trial being one example. Isn't it in everyone's best interest, and definitely, isn't it in justice's interest to protect EVERYONE'S right to a fair trial?
Conviction records, however should be open, except in the case of First Offender's, where a judge finds the accused worthy of a second chance.

Riverman1
94207
Points
Riverman1 01/12/14 - 04:02 pm
4
1
Eliminate Jail Report and Booked

I say eliminate the Jail Report and Booked from having access to the mug shots and records beyond what any citizen has. Each county should have a website with the photos and info readily available for free. There's no reason to support these publications relying on the sensationalism to make a buck.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 01/12/14 - 05:03 pm
0
0
Is a photo a negative or a positive? (understated pun intended)
Unpublished

What say you, “O noble Augusta Chronicle,” do you want the power of the press to be suppressed? Or do you hope your competition is squashed? Could the law have some balance? Publish the arrest photo, the trial transcript and the jail term or the release photos with equal space. Just as the authorities should be punished for accepting a bribe to suppress the rights of the press from public info, so should the press be banned from taking bribes to ‘non-publish” public news. The ninety nine % who appear in the lock-up report only look at the photo as a badge of honor, so who cares anyway?

Austin Rhodes
2998
Points
Austin Rhodes 01/12/14 - 05:56 pm
1
2
Anonymous posters...

...calling for the suppression of public records? I guess that is copasetic.

By the way, any citizen can walk into the Sheriff's dept. and get the records any time they want...this is no special privilege enjoyed by the press.

itsanotherday1
48395
Points
itsanotherday1 01/12/14 - 08:02 pm
1
0
I'm all for withholding

I'm all for withholding arrest records and mug shots until either a grand jury returns a true bill or the perp pleads.

If the press would do adequate follow up and put as much effort into clearing the person's good name as they do it smearing it, I would feel differently, but they don't. Rags like the jail report say "so and so was charged with ____" and that is the last you hear of it.

Riverman1
94207
Points
Riverman1 01/13/14 - 04:32 am
3
0
Great Way To Get Rid of Jail Report

"By the way, any citizen can walk into the Sheriff's dept. and get the records any time they want...this is no special privilege enjoyed by the press."

It is my understanding there's a fee for obtaining the records. Of course if the Jail Report and Booked are making money using the records they don't mind paying it. I say every county should have a website where anyone can check anytime for free. There's no reason to let sensationalism publications make money on the thing. This would be a great way to get rid of the Jail Report and Booked.

lifelongresident
1323
Points
lifelongresident 01/14/14 - 09:44 am
0
0
they only want to hide the
Unpublished

they only want to hide the pictures and arrest records/info because too many of "dey freins, bruthas, rel-a-tibbs, and od-dah fam-lee mem-bahs" is be gittin "ress-tid" so dis way win dey git ress-tid dey kin call dim to git dem out be-foh da press is not-a-fied

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