Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$200,000 Settlement in City Counsel’s Refusal to Film Meetings

by David Reutter

The City of Cumming, Georgia, agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging it prohibited a citizen from filming a City Council meeting.

Nydia Tisdale attended an April 17, 2012, Cumming City Council meeting with a plan to video record the proceedings to part on her website. She set up her video camera and tripod in the center aisle of the auditorium in City Hall. When the meeting began, Mayor Ford Gravitt asked Police Chief Casey Tatum to remove the video camera from the auditorium, announcing, “We don’t allow filming inside of the city hall here unless it’s specific reasons, so if you would remove the camera.”

Tisdale did not immediately comply; she attempted to explain Georgia law permits video recording meetings. Gravitt replied the matter was not up for discussion and directed the camera removed. Tatum removed the camera and Tisdale from the auditorium. Later, Tisdale returned and sat in the front row. She began audio recording, taking still pictures and videoing with a smaller camera. Deputy Police Chief Walter Cook ordered her to stop recording.

A civil rights action alleging first and fourteenth Amendment violations of Tisdale’s freedom of speech and forth and fourteenth Amendment violations for the unreasonable search seizure was brought. In a September 30, 2014, the district court found Tisdale presented sufficient evidence to defeat summary judgment. It, however, held Gravitt and Tatum were entitled to qualified immunity on the freedom of speech claims. The City of Cumming could, nonetheless, be found liable under municipal liability for the policy Gravitt announced. The seizure claim was also allowed to proceed.

On March 9, 2015, the $200,000 settlement was reached. Tisdale was represented by attorney Gerald R. Weber. See: Tisdale v. Gravitt, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Georgia), Case No. 2:12–cv-00145.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Tisdale v. Gravitt