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Sat Jun 6, 2020, 08:02 AM

Douglas Co. Commissioner Breaches Free Speech Infringement Settlement Agreement

A Douglas County commissioner who previously agreed to settle a legal matter regarding free speech infringements of a constituent out of court is now refusing to abide by the terms set forth by his own legal counsel.

The months-long dispute was assumed to be resolved when a settlement agreement was executed at the end of May, but a commissioner’s refusal to adhere to the agreement means the case could be headed to federal court.

Douglas County resident Brenda Bohanan sent a letter to Commissioner Kelly Robinson in February of this year after Robinson blocked Bohanan on two Facebook accounts on which he conducted official business. In that letter, which copied County Attorney Ken Bernard, Bohanan requested that Robinson unblock her on the basis of a number of court rulings – including one by the U.S. Supreme Court – which held that public officials cannot bar access to their accounts, even personal profiles, if the page or profile is used in an official capacity.

The courts established that citizens have a First Amendment right to interact with government officials in a political forum. In both a 1997 case (Zeran v. Am. Online, Inc) and the noteworthy Packingham v. North Carolina case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the internet and social media have been deemed public forums in the same traditional sense as parks and streets.

Read more: https://allongeorgia.com/local-government/douglas-co-commissioner-breaches-free-speech-infringement-settlement-agreement/

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