Judge Responds To Open Records Request By Having Requester Indicted, Arrested
from the FOIA-TO-JAIL.-FOIA-DIRECTLY-TO-JAIL.-DO-NOT-PASS-GO. dept
We’ve seen government officials do some pretty questionable things to avoid turning over documents to FOIA requesters. The most common method is just to stick requesters with a bill they can’t pay. Stonewalling is popular, too — so much so that the federal government sends out “Still interested?” notices to people whose requests have been backburnered for years.
More rarely, officials will race requesters to the courthouse, hoping to secure a judgment in their favor stating that they’ve already fully complied with a FOIA request — even when they’ve done nothing but withhold and redact. Stripped of all the legal wrangling, this is basically the government suing individuals for asking for documents, forcing taxpayers to go out-of-pocket if they hope to counter the officials’ assertions.
But one thing we haven’t seen is a government official securing a grand jury indictment against open records requesters… for making open records requests.
A North Georgia newspaper publisher was indicted on a felony charge and jailed overnight last week – for filing an open-records request.
Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, along with his attorney Russell Stookey, were arrested on Friday and charged with attempted identity fraud and identity fraud. Thomason was also accused of making a false statement in his records request.