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Citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale appeals misdemeanor obstruction conviction, seeks new trial
11262017 NYDIA TISDALE
Nydia Tisdale - photo by Times file

Barely a month after she was sentenced to probation and community service for misdemeanor obstruction of an officer by the Dawson County Superior Court, Nydia Tisdale has filed a motion for a new trial.

After a week-long trial, the self-proclaimed citizen journalist was sentenced Dec. 18 to serve 12 months of probation, 40 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine for her August 2014 altercation with a Dawson County law enforcement officer. 

On Jan. 8 Tisdale filed the motion under the grounds that there was “insufficient evidence to support the verdict” and “the trial court committed errors of law,” warranting a new trial. 

Tisdale is now being represented by a new attorney, Noah Pines, an Atlanta trial lawyer with Ross & Pines LLC. Also on her team is Andrew Fleischman of the same firm. 

Tisdale was found not guilty of felony obstruction of an officer and misdemeanor criminal trespass; charges that stemmed from her forced removal from Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville, where she was filming a Republican Party campaign rally. 

Tisdale was sentenced under Georgia’s First Time Offenders Act, which means that if she completed the sentence without issue, her record would be cleared. 

The self-proclaimed citizen journalist was arrested at a 2014 campaign rally attended by statewide officeholders including Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens. She was arrested by Capt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office after being asked to stop filming by organizers; the event was publicly advertised and held on private property. 

After Tisdale refused to stop filming, Wooten forcibly removed her. During the trial Wooten claimed he was kicked and elbowed by Tisdale as he took her away from the event. 

Tisdale argued that her forced removal violated her First Amendment rights and claimed during the trial that Wooten did not identify himself as he held her pinned to a counter in a barn at the pumpkin farm. She had previously threatened to file sexual assault charges against Wooten and said he physically harmed her. 

Much of the trial hinged on Tisdale’s assertion that she did not know Wooten was a law enforcement officer when she resisted arrest. 

In the documents recently filed by Tisdale’s lawyers, they argue that it is not a crime for someone to refuse an order to leave the premises unless the person asking them to leave has identified himself, which they claim Wooten did not. 

“No one provided their identity,” Tisdale said during the trial. “They gave me no information about who they were or what authority they had to make any of these requests.”

As of Tuesday afternoon a hearing date had not been set. 

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