South Fulton County

City of South Fulton to modify open records policies following lawsuit

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — In November, Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray interviewed a South Fulton man who was suing the city to get access to records he requested.

The man, Reshard Snellings, said he sued South Fulton because he thought they were breaking the state’s open records laws.

“These are public documents that should be made available to the public,” Snellings told Channel 2 Action News previously.

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Now, city officials confirmed they’re changing the policies they have for requesting open records and filling those requests.

In a statement shared with Channel 2 Action News, a spokeswoman said the city “reaffirms its unwavering commitment to transparency and compliance within standards of the [Georgia] Open Records Act,” adding that under the guidance of the South Fulton City Clerk and City manager, they’ve made “significant strides” to enhance their open records process.

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The city said they’ve also put “comprehensive training programs to ensure adherence to the highest standards of compliance” in place in order to foster trust and accountability in their community.

As previously reported, Snellings said the lawsuit he filed was simple.

“I hope they see that they can’t just violate the law like this. They have to produce these documents. I know they don’t like to do it, but it is what it is within our right as residents to question the government and be able to see these documents,” he told Gray in November.

Even earlier, a Channel 2 Action News investigation found that the city’s police department had not been following parts of Georgia’s open records laws, which led to changes in the South Fulton Police Department.

Now that the issue appears settled, Snellings’ attorney, Joy Ramsingh, said she and her client were pleased with the decision, saying in part:

“We’re at the end of Sunshine Week, a national movement to celebrate government transparency at federal, state, and local levels. Georgia is slightly behind the curve when it comes to government transparency. Our law is good, but our enforcement lags behind other states. Lawsuits like this one are the only way that Georgians can bring agencies into compliance. We appreciate the City’s renewed commitment to transparency, and we hope that this lawsuit inspires agencies to become more proactive with their Open Records Act compliance.”

Going forward, city officials said they remain dedicated “to ensuring that citizens of South Fulton have access to requested information, in adherence to the Open Records Act.”

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