Fulton County Quorum Court to allow video recording

Friday, September 14, 2012
A large group of citizens urged Fulton County Justices of the Peace to do what every other Quorum Court in the state does, and allow video recording of their meetings. JPs agreed to remove their year old ban and allow video recording, as long as cameras do not cause distractions during meetings.

More than a year after it banned the video recording of its meetings, the Fulton County Quorum Court surprised many in a crowded audience on Monday, Sept. 10 by changing its mind. After hearing public comments and discussing the issue, Justices of the Peace reversed themselves, voting to allow citizens and the news media to record their meetings, as long as cameras are placed so that they do not disrupt meetings.

One of the items on the September agenda was a proposed ordinance that Judge Charles Willett distributed to J-Ps in August to consider. It proposed allowing the news media to record meetings, but not citizens. In fact, the ordinance appeared to deny citizens the right to make audio recordings of meetings or take photographs, rights the state Freedom of Information Act already clearly allows.

Willett began the discussion by appearing to back away from the proposed ordinance, that Freedom of Information experts had criticized as violating the FOIA in many ways. Willett suggested that the Quorum Court tape its own meetings, and place them in the library to give the public access to them. But several speakers told the court over and over that the news media and the public have the right to video tape meetings themselves, and that the Quorum Court was the only known body in the state to ban video recording of a public meeting.

After a long discussion, J-P Cris Newberry asked, "Are there any problems with video taping in other counties that justify restrictions on video taping here?"

County Attorney Dwayne Plumlee said it was a matter of rules. 12 people with cameras could line up and block the view of the audience.

Newberry suggested allowing video taping and seeing if there will be problems.

Newberry finally made a motion to allow anyone to video record Quorum Court meetings, after a decision is made as to where the cameras will be located. He later amended the motion to include the possibility that Quorum Court also record meetings, if it chooses.

The motion passed when eight J-Ps voted to allow video recording. J-P Michael Barnett abstained, declining to take a position.

Because of a press deadline, an in depth story about the Quorum Court meeting and its decision on video recording will appear in the Sept. 20 issue of The News.

View 1 comment
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Finally they gained some common sense! Good for them to actually follow the LAW! I think they realized it had been made so public they couldn't get away with it. Which by the way is kinda of the main purpose of FOIA. Not that it would have stopped me. I was planning on attending with my own handheld flip recorder and record it anyway. It is my LEGAL RIGHT UNDER THE LAW!

    -- Posted by FOHA on Fri, Sep 21, 2012, at 7:25 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: