Towns & The Law Articles

A magazine column highlighting legal issues that could impact Georgia's cities.

Facebook and the First Amendment

Towns and the Law

August 28, 2018

Caroline Dorsey, GMA Assistant General Counsel

Can your employer discipline you for a social media post?

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Protesting in Your City: Understanding First Amendment Rights

Towns and the Law

May 23, 2018

Rusi Patel Patel, GMA Senior Associate General Counsel

A few weeks ago I was driving through a small town in Indiana. It was sleeting and snowing and cold. It also happened to be the day of “March for Our Lives,” a student-led demonstration in support of tighter gun regulations. Despite the terrible weather, as I drove by the courthouse I noted dozens of people out on the courthouse steps. It reminded me of my time working for a city in Southeastern Georgia almost a decade ago when we had a similarly sized Tea Party protest in front of the courthouse on a miserably hot summer day.

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What Exactly is Official Immunity and Does It Apply to Me?

Towns and the Law

April 12, 2018

Caroline Dorsey, Assistant General Counsel, GMA

As you are likely aware, Georgia law provides some protection to public officers and employees from personal liability for official actions. This protection is known as the doctrine of official immunity. Official immunity, sometimes referred to as qualified immunity, is different than sovereign immunity, which protects the governmental entity when an official is sued in his or her official capacity.

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Leaders Charged to Understand Their City Charter

Towns and the Law

February 22, 2018

Susan Moore, General Counsel, GMA

A city’s charter is an important and guiding document for the city. It is a law that cannot be ignored. When your city council adopts ordinanc­es, they must be consistent with the city’s charter and applicable state law. Sometimes the mayor and city council disagree on who has certain powers under the charter. The city council may pass ordinances to clarify this or simply to shift power, but when do their actions come into conflict with the charter?

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Uncovering a City’s Rights with Sanctuary Policies

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February 2, 2018

Rusi Patel, Senior Associate General Counsel, GMA

“Local control.” As city officials and employees it is the mantra that drives us to improve our local communities. Politicians running for federal and state offices also speak glowingly of local control—well, until it becomes inconvenient to their goals. But what does “local control” really mean and how does it really work in the complex world of federal and state laws?

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Yes, it’s True: You Cannot Sue a Dog— Or a Cat, for That Matter

Towns and the Law

June 19, 2017

Phil Friduss

Just when you think you heard it all, something new just crash lands into my inbox; a case about a K-9 named Draco.  A case in which Draco, among some humans and a county, get sued.  Oh, yes he did…
 

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Municipal Ante Litem Notice Turned on its Head

Towns and the Law

May 10, 2017

By Rusi Patel, Associate General Counsel, Georgia Municipal Association

In a decision, which is sure to cause waves in the world of Georgia municipal litigation, the Georgia Supreme Court recently narrowed the previously understood scope of a Georgia law requiring persons contemplating suing a city to give the city advance notice before actually filing the lawsuit. 

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Behind Door Number Three: But We Were Just Looking!

Towns and the Law

February 14, 2017

Phil Friduss

This is the story of what happens when people enter homes that are not theirs, without per­mission. For Sale signs out front of empty(ish) homes notwithstanding.

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Must Read: Zoning Decisions May be in Danger

Towns and the Law

January 23, 2017

Phil Friduss

I guess you can blame yours truly if things go south in the Hoechstetter (Hock-stetter) case—one pertaining to a long-standing, statewide custom dealing with public notice in zoning matters. We’re going to want to stay on this as it works its way through the courts. Here’s what we have.

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Supreme Court Review for Local Governments – Fall 2016

Towns and the Law

October 17, 2016

Lisa Soronen

A review of some of the 2015-2016 cases that affect local governments, and a glimpse at three new cases of interest to be decided in the Court’s 2016-2017 term.

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Of Dogs and Privacy: The Warrantless Taking of a Dog’s Blood and All That Comes with It

Towns and the Law

September 16, 2016

Phil Friduss

Amanda Newcomb is out of money. Because of that, she is unable to regularly feed her dog, Juno. Her neighbor, apparently follow­ing Juno’s plight, calls the Oregon Hu­mane Society, and so begins the saga.

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