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