Blalock v. Cartwright
The Supreme Court of Georgia held that a the Georgia Open Records Act provides for its own cause of action for enforcement of open records requests and, thus, a mandamus action seeking to compel compliance with the Act was unavailable.
Blalock sought access to records from the City of Lovejoy and after failing to receive the records or receiving any response from the city he filed a mandamus action. He had filed the request via certified mail to the mayor who signed the return receipt on September 15, 2015. Blalock filed the mandamus action on October 9, 2015, well after the time period established by the Act for the city to respond to such open records request. After he filed the mandamus action the city responded to the open records request and stated that the records would be produced within five days. The records were not produced within five days but a motion to dismiss the mandamus action was filed.
In November 2015 the trial court had an initial hearing, at which time the mayor did produce a portion of the requested documents. More documents were produced in December 2015. Although Blalock claimed that the city was still withholding documents the court granted the mayor's motion to dismiss the mandamus action. On appeal, the Court held that the civil monetary penalties in the Act was no substitute for the information found in the government records. However, the Court also found that the Act allows any person to bring an action to enforce compliance with the Act, which was a specific legal remedy barring the mandamus action.