Carr: Former Atlanta Employee Found Guilty of Open Records Act Violations
ATLANTA, GA - Attorney General Chris Carr today announced that a Fulton County State Court Jury found a former City of Atlanta employee, Jenna Garland, guilty on two counts of violating the Georgia Open Records Act.
“The only way the people of Georgia can hold public officials accountable is to have appropriate access to their documents and meetings,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We are very pleased that the jury agreed with us that these actions were in clear violation of the Georgia Open Records Act, and we think this case sends a strong message across our state and nation about the importance of following the law. I’m proud of our legal team for their hard work to protect and promote openness and transparency in government.”
Georgia’s Open Records Act provides that it is a misdemeanor to knowingly and willingly attempt to frustrate access to records that are not subject to exemption by intentionally making such records difficult to obtain or review.
The first charge states that the Department of Watershed Management received an open records request for billing, payment and usage records from WSB-TV for a specific address on March 7, 2017. Garland was found guilty of instructing the Director of Communications for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management to “[d]rag this out as long as possible [a]nd provide information in the most confusing format available.”
The second charge states that the Department of Watershed Management received another open records request from WSB-TV on March 21, 2017 for certain billing records. Several days later on April 7, 2017, Garland instructed the Director of Communications for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management to “[h]old all” documents responsive to the request until the requestor asked for an update.
This case first came to the attention of the Office of the Attorney General following a news story, which aired on WSB-TV on March 8, 2018. The story alleged open records violations by the former mayoral press secretary Jenna Garland and potentially others. The Office of the Attorney General requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation open an investigation into the matter on March 12, 2018, and these charges are product of that investigation.
This case was investigated by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rocky Bigham and Special Agent Clint Thomas, both of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Senior Assistant Attorney General Blair McGowan and Senior Assistant Attorney General Laura Pfister lead the prosecution for the State of Georgia.
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