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Hall County Sheriff’s Office, nonprofit close out open records dispute over immigration documents
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A nonprofit organization and the Hall County Sheriff’s Office have agreed to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the Georgia Open Records Act and documents requested concerning immigrant detention.

Project South: The Institute for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide started requesting documents in October 2017 concerning agreements between the federal government and the sheriff’s office. Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, said the piece of information desired was the rider from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the agreement between the sheriff’s office and U.S. Marshals Service. 

The documents discuss the costs and compensation for housing immigrant inmates.

After multiple correspondences, the sheriff’s office said it could not provide the rider, adding it must be requested through a federal Freedom of Information Act request to ICE.

“The sheriff had no legal authority to release them. That’s why he had not released them,” county attorney Bill Blalock said.

Project South filed a complaint Aug. 2 in Hall County Superior Court alleging violations of the Georgia Open Records Act.

The case was then removed to U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

Blalock said the US marshals decided to release the documents while the sheriff’s office’s motion to dismiss was still pending. 

Both parties filed a joint stipulation to dismiss on Oct. 4, and both agreed to bear their own expenses.

“Government secrecy and lack of transparency have no place in a democracy,” Shahshahani said in an email.

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