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Hearing scheduled in TV news station’s lawsuit against Cobb sheriff

By Kristal Dixon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

A hearing has been scheduled in the local NBC affiliate’s lawsuit against Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren over an alleged violation of Georgia’s Open Records Act.

Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole will hold the hearing at 4 p.m. Oct. 12 via Zoom video conference due to the statewide judicial emergency that remains in effect. The judge will weigh WXIA-TV’s request for the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office to hand over the case files of three Cobb County Adult Detention Center inmates.

WXIA-TV, known as 11Alive News to viewers, filed a lawsuit against Warren and the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office’s records custodian for allegedly refusing to produce case files concerning the deaths of Bradley Emory, Reginald Wilson and Stephanie McClendon.

The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to requests for comment.

11Alive News contends the sheriff’s office told them that an active investigation prevents them from releasing the files. According to the lawsuit, the investigation the sheriff’s office cited in its refusal is being conducted by Nathan Wade.

Wade, a partner at Marietta law firm Wade, Bradley & Campbell, told the AJC that he was asked by Warren during the summer to look into complaints about the use of force, racial biases and discrimination and allegations of neglect dating back five years.

Since 2004, 51 inmates have died at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center, the lawsuit states. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported earlier that nine of those detainees have died since December 2018. The deaths have spurred an outpouring of community concern over jail conditions and a number of deaths advocates and families say could have been prevented.

A series of town halls hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and other organizations have been held on the subject over the past year.