July 1, 2016

SOUNDS LIKE A GEORGIA JUDGE NEEDS TO BE REMOVED FROM THE BENCH: North Georgia newspaper publisher jailed over open records request.

A North Georgia newspaper publisher last week was indicted on a felony charge and jailed overnight – for filing an open-records request.

Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, along with his attorney Russell Stookey, were arrested on Friday and charged with attempted identity fraud and identity fraud. Thomason was also accused of making a false statement in his records request.

Thomason’s relentless pursuit of public records relating to the local Superior Court has incensed the court’s chief judge, Brenda Weaver, who also chairs the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Weaver took the matter to the district attorney, who obtained the indictments.

And the DA, too, by all appearances. Plus:

Thomason and Stookey are out on $10,000 bond and have a long list of things they cannot do or things they must do to avoid going to jail until their trials. On Thursday, for example, Thomason reported to a pretrial center and was told that he may have to submit to a random drug test – a condition of the bond on which he was released from jail last Saturday.

Alison Sosebee, district attorney in the three counties in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and Judge Weaver say the charges are justified. Weaver said she resented Thomason’s attacks on her character in his weekly newspaper and in conversations with her constituents.

“I don’t react well when my honesty is questioned,” Weaver said.

She said others in the community were using Thomason to get at her. “It’s clear this is a personal vendetta against me,” she said. “I don’t know how else to explain that.”

I question your fitness to sit on the bench, or to hold a law license.

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