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Tuesday May 5th, 2015 12:19AM

Mayor of Cumming fined in open meetings lawsuit; AG claims victory

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) A judge has ruled that the mayor of Cumming violated Georgia's open meetings law by stopping a resident from videotaping a council meeting. <br /> <br /> A judge last week ruled in favor of Attorney General Sam Olens in a lawsuit against the city of Cumming and Mayor Henry Ford Gravitt. The judge ordered the city and mayor to pay $12,000 in penalties plus attorney fees. <br /> <br /> According to Olens' lawsuit, Gravitt ordered a citizen, Nydia Tisdale, to stop taping a 2012 council meeting and had her forcibly removed from the room. <br /> <br /> The Attorney General's Office issued a letter Tuesday in response to Judge Robert Adamson's August 21 ruling.<br /> <br /> ""This ruling is a major victory for government transparency," said Olens. "Georgians deserve a government that operates openly and honestly. The essence of our democracy is that elected officials are held accountable to the citizens and that citizens are allowed to exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment."<br /> <br /> Tisdale was arrested last weekend while videotaping a GOP event in Dawson County. In that case, Sheriff Billy Carlisle says Tisdale faces potential charges of criminal trespass and obstruction of an officer after the property owner asked her to stop taping and leave. <br /> <br /> <i>AccessNorthGA.com staff contributed to this story.</i>
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