CUMMING - The State of Georgia and the City of Cumming have until August 9 to settle their differences over a lawsuit that claims the city violated the state's open meetings law. After that, if there is no resolution, the the case will go to court.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Senior Judge Robert Adamson told both sides in Forsyth County Superior Court that if that deadline goes unmet, he wants both parties to file briefs providing more evidence for their arguments by Aug. 30.
The State Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit against the city after Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt ordered a reporter and her video camera removed from a city council meeting in April 2012. The reporter, Nydia Tisdale claimed the city violated Georgia's open meetings law when Gravitt had police bar her from the meeting.
The AJC said that Attorney General Sam Olens filed a lawsuit against the city after two months of negotiations over the issue produced no resolution.
The State wants Cumming officials to admit the mayor violated the law by removing Tisdale and her equipment, but Cumming officials said they won't do that because an admission of wrongdoing is a liability that opens the door for additional litigation.
The city, according to the newspaper, contends it has sovereignty under the state constitution to avoid interference by the state.
Cumming is the first government to be prosecuted under Georgia's new Open Meetings Act, which provides for stiffer penalties for violators.