The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a request to review lower court rulings that limit public access to police body camera video. Justice John Ellington and Justice Carla Wong McMillian dissented.

The Georgia First Amendment Foundation is disappointed by the Court’s decision, issued Nov. 16, 2023. Over the summer, the foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting The Augusta Press’ petition for writ of certiorari. In The Augusta Press v. Richard Roundtree, Sheriff of Richmond County, the news outlet asked the Court to review lower court decisions that essentially enable any police body camera footage recorded in a residential dwelling to be kept secret from the public.

The foundation contends that the lower court decisions conflict with the Georgia Open Records Act’s mandate in favor of broad public access to government records — and narrow construction of any exceptions. In this case of domestic disturbance, a woman had called 911 to seek the assistance of law enforcement, removing the expectation of privacy, and the other participant was a local government official.

The foundation’s friend-of-the-court brief was filed by attorneys with the First Amendment Clinic at the University of Georgia School of Law. The Augusta Press was represented by Georgia Press Association attorney David Hudson, a foundation board member.

>>> GFAF urges high court to reconsider limits on public access to police body cam video