Fire chief hiring has Augusta back in court fighting paying attorney fees

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Lawyers for the City of Augusta say they played it by the book when it came to naming Antonio Burden as the finalist for the chief’s job last April.

“The City did not violate the open records act, it identified one best qualified candidate and named that person a finalist and promptly released the candidate records for public inspection,” said City Attorney Wayne Brown.

But media outlets including WJBF filed suit after the City did not release documents on the other finalists following an open records request.

In May Judge Jesse Stone agreed with the media, then the city released documents on two more candidates.

“The cases say if you only comply after the judge tells you, so you violated the act,” said Davis Hudson attorney for the four media outlets.

Media attorney Davis Hudson believes the city should pay the 13 thousand dollars in legal fees facing the local media outlet because they went to court to keep the city from withholding information that legally should be public.

“This the type of secrecy that is to be prevented open records and open meetings act and I applaud the four media for standing up to those obligations,” said Hudson.

But the city is standing on its ground admitting no wrongdoing.

“The city followed it’s recruitment process and obeyed we hope the judge will come to that conclusion with the remaining issues,” said Brown.

“Would you want to appeal if the judge orders attorney fees?”

That will be a decision for the commission,” said Brown.  

 Judge Stone will issue a decision at a later date. 


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