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The Augusta Press sues for access to information from the Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff’s Office

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The Augusta Press has filed a lawsuit against Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree seeking access to information readily disseminated to other news media outlets in the Augusta area.

The lawsuit alleges that Roundtree and his office are in violation of the First Amendment.

Filed Dec. 1 in Richmond County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges Roundtree deliberately withheld information because “The Augusta Press had an opinion columnist, radio commentator Austin Rhodes, that the Sheriff did not like,” according to the documents.

The lawsuit also highlights an incident on Nov. 12 when Roundtree’s office “circulated a media release concerning the arrest of a deputy. This media information was not sent to The Augusta Press, but it was sent by Defendant’s office to TV, radio and print media in Richmond County and McDuffie County, Georgia, and in Aiken.”

The Augusta Press sent Roundtree a letter dated Nov. 15 “to persuade the defendant from continuing to exclude The Augusta Press from media releases and conferences;” however, he has not responded to the letter.

The sheriff and his office are violating The Augusta Press’s First Amendment rights, the lawsuit said.

“The First Amendment also prohibits a government official from subjecting a person or company to retaliatory actions for the exercise of First Amendment rights to speak and publish on matters of public interest,” the complaint alleges.

A lawsuit represents one side of a dispute. Roundtree has 30 days to file a response.

01603937-E-53CNEAML-ACCEPTED

4 COMMENTS

  1. I do not have a problem with many of Mr. Rhodes’ verbal attacks toward Sheriff Roundtree; however, some are simply unnecessary fodder to fill air space. I understand that our Sheriff is not pleased with Mr. Rhodes’ consistent verbal harassment, but to exclude the Augusta Press from vital information is not a choice. When the Augusta Press first began publishing on-line, Mr. Rhodes’ commentary was a bit more prevalent than it currently is. Our sheriff is not a perfect man; however, he deserves some respect. The good and bad should be balanced in the press, both on-air and printed.

  2. I fly a thin blue line flag at my home six days a week (Christian flag on Sunday) and support all of our police who protect and defend us. I pray that the Sheriff and Augusta Press can work this out quickly.

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