WRCB Fighting for Access to Catoosa Records
By Melydia Clewell
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - When Catoosa County Sheriff's deputies removed Magistrate Anthony Peters from his courthouse office on June 16th, WRCB reporter Callie Starnes asked to see the video from courthouse surveillance cameras that captured the incident.
In a June 17th letter sent by Ringgold attorney Chad Young, the county denied our access to the video citing concerns of a possible security breach and asserting the video is exempt from Georgia's Open Records Act because it is part of "ongoing investigations of potential unlawful activities."
WRCB attorneys disagreed with that decision and sent a June 18th letter challenging Catoosa County's decision to withhold the video. Catoosa County's attorney responded by again denying the request in a two page letter dated June 23rd that offers more detail of why the county currently refuses to let the public see the video.
The next step we are taking in our fight for access to this public record is to solicit advice from the Georgia Attorney General. It is a duty of the Attorney General to serve as a watchdog to ensure the state's open government laws are upheld. If staff members who review the information we provided believe withholding the video violates the state's Open Records Act, the AG could step in to force Catoosa County to comply with the law.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News will continue to push for the public's right to open government records.