South Fulton County

Man sues Georgia town claiming it is violating Georgia Open Records law

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A metro Atlanta man has filed a lawsuit against a Georgia town, claiming it is violating Georgia Open Records law.

“These are public documents that should be made available to the public,” Reshard Snellings said.

Snellings said the lawsuit he filed against the city of South Fulton is as simple as that.

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“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 said.

Snellings said in some cases he’s received sky-high bills for documents, in others there have been months of waiting with no response.

“They have sent me bills that I’ve actually paid, and after I pay them, I’ve got nothing but redacted documents. Not a word or two, redacted. They put a black box over the entire page and made me pay for it,” he said.

The lawsuit focuses on the city not responding or not communicating about requests.

“In this case, time after time after time, there are 17 requested issues here where the city failed to respond in the manner provided for by law,” Joy Ramsingh, Snellings’ attorney, said.

Channel 2 Action News reported on an investigation in February about how South Fulton denied our open records request for civil forfeiture data. By law, the city’s police department is required to provide records to the state to be posted online for the public.

“I actually want to thank you all for bringing that to our attention,” South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows told Gray in February.

And this isn’t a problem tied to one town or city.

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Last year Channel 2 Action News reported how the city council of Grantville voted to seek criminal charges against a citizen for his dozens of open records requests. A District Attorney later declined to prosecute.

Cases like those are why Snellings and his attorney say their lawsuit is about more than South Fulton.

“I think that suits like this sort of lift up and enforce the law for everyone,” Ramsingh said.

“These government agencies, they need to be held accountable and they need to follow the law,” Snellings said.

Snellings also filed multiple complaints with the Georgia Attorney General’s office which tells us their mediation department worked with him on several of those complaints with the city.

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