Judge sentences Tisdale to 12 months on probation

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Nydia Tisdale

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County Senior Superior Court Judge Martha Christian sentenced Nydia Tisdale Monday to serve 12 months  on probation, 40 hours of community service and issued a $1,000 fine after Tisdale’s Dec. 4 conviction of misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Tisdale was acquitted of the more serious charges of felony obstruction and trespassing that stemmed from her arrest at a political rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in 2014. Tisdale refused to stop videotaping the event and was forcibly removed and arrested by then Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten.

Tisdale was sentenced under Georgia’s First Offender Act which means that if she successfully completes all the terms of the sentence, she will not have a conviction and the charge will be sealed from her official criminal history.

Tisdale’s attorney Bruce Harvey said his client would appeal the conviction.

“We certainly had hoped that given Nydia’s background, given her support in the community, including the community of journalists who are in the main stream media who understand that any threat to a journalist who provides information to the public about their public officials, would be treated differently than an ordinary misdemeanor,” Harvey said.

Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer referred all questions to District Attorney Lee Darragh.

Harvey presented a long list of character witnesses Monday. Governor Nathan Deal was subpoenaed on Friday to appear on Monday, but Richard Willard, of the Georgia Attorney General’s office, said seeking to have the governor testify on such short notice was “irresponsible” and he made a motion to quash.

Christian granted the motion saying Deal’s testimony would not be “material or relevant.”

Ironically, one witness who did appear on behalf of Tisdale was Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson. He testified that he met Tisdale more than two years ago and had observed her filming several community events. Johnson said he had never witnessed her being disruptive or felt like she was a threat to the public.

When Tisdale took the witness stand, she said, “I meant no harm going to a campaign event that was advertised as public.  I’m sorry this happened. I am asking the court today for leniency. I spent eight hours in county detention on a Saturday night. If the court would consider a sentence of time served, I would greatly appreciate it.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Tisdale Guilty of Misdemeanor Obstruction, Not Guilty of Felony Obstruction, Trespassing

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Nydia Tisdale (left) confers with attorney Catherine Bernard.

DAWSONVILLE Ga. – A Dawsonville jury found Nydia Tisdale guilty of misdemeanor obstruction of an officer, but acquitted her of felony obstruction and trespassing Monday evening.

The charges stemmed from a political rally attended by many of Georgia’s top state Republican leaders, including Governor Nathan Deal and now Senator David Perdue. The state charged that Tisdale was told on three separate occasions to stop filming the event or leave, and when former Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten attempted to remove her, she elbowed him in the face and kicked him.

However, defense attorneys Bruce Harvey and Catherine Bernard argued that Tisdale had permission of the owners to the film the event, and those who ordered her to leave, including event organizer Clint Bearden, did not have the authority to do so.

The jury returned the verdict around 6 p.m. Monday. Sentencing has been set for Dec. 18 in Dawson County Superior Court.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Attorneys present closing arguments in Tisdale trial

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Defense attorney Catherine Bernard

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Attorneys made their closing arguments and Senior Superior Court Judge Martha Christian turned the case over to the jury around midday Monday in the trial of Nydia Tisdale on charges of obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing.

The charges against Tisdale stem from a political rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in August 2014. The state argued that Tisdale, a “self-proclaimed” citizen journalist, refused repeated requests by owner Johnny Burt to stop filming the event then elbowed and kicked former Dawson County Sheriff Capt. Tony Wooten when he attempted to remove her.

In her closing argument, defense attorney Catherine Bernard said the case was about the notice Tisdale was given. “Nydia Tisdale was never asked (to stop filming) by anyone who had legal authority,” she said. “You can’t just tell somebody to get off somebody else’s property. You have to present some type of authority.”

Asst. D.A. Conley Greer

Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer countered by saying Clint Bearden identified himself as a representative of the owner when he asked Tisdale to stop filming.

Bernard said it wasn’t the Burts who initiated the request to stop filming, but Bearden, who claimed some of the campaigns were unhappy she was filming.

Greer said that doesn’t matter. “No matter the rationale (the owner) had every right to make that decision,” Greer added.

The basis of the state’s argument is that the case is about private property rights.

“If a person can’t be free on his own property to do with that property what he sees fit, can they ever be free?” Greer asked. “Ever?”

Tisdale could face up to five years in jail if convicted.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Closing arguments set Monday in Tisdale trial

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Attorneys Conley Greer (seated) and defense attorney Bruce Harvey talk during court recess.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Closing arguments are expected Monday in the long-delayed trial of Nydia Tisdale, the self-proclaimed citizen journalist charged with felony obstruction of an officer following a 2014 Republican rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm.

Senior State Superior Court Judge Martha Christian could have continued the trial today (Dec. 2) but indicated she was aware of a special event taking place today that could be a distraction, referring to the Georgia vs. Auburn SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

Tisdale is also charged with misdemeanor obstruction and criminal trespassing. She could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Nydia Tisdale charged with felony obstruction of an officer.

The state contends that Tisdale ignored the property owners’ repeated demands to stop filming the rally or leave, then struck and kicked former Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten when he attempted to remove her.

On the witness stand Friday, Tisdale admitted she had been told on three separate occasions to stop filming but said, “In my mind, he didn’t have any authority to demand that of me.” Tisdale repeatedly said she had the permission of Burt’s Pumpkin Farm co-owner Kathy Burt to film the event.

However, Burt and her daughter, Kasey Sanders, greeted Tisdale when she arrived and both testified the defendant never asked permission. They said she indicated she was there filming for Gov. Nathan Deal, who also attended the rally. Burt said she felt like Tisdale misrepresented herself.

There were other apparent inconsistencies in Tisdale’s testimony. She said as she was being detained by Wooten, she heard Burt say she did not want to press charges. However, Burt denied saying that and an audio recording on Tisdale’s camera picked up no such statement by Burt.

Judge Martha Christian considers objection from defense counsel.

Tisdale also testified that she never hit Wooten but Morris Petit, who testified for the state, said he witnessed the defendant strike the officer, “around the facial area, the neck. That was almost immediate.”

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey subpoenaed Gov. Nathan Deal, who occupied a front row seat near Tisdale at the rally, but Christian quashed the subpoena.

She also denied a motion by Harvey for a directed verdict.

Other leading state officials, including former Attorney General Sam Olens, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and State School Superintendent Richard Woods did testify this week. All said they had no objection to Tisdale filming the event.

Hudgens, one of the first state officials to speak at the event, testified he did not talk to anyone about getting rid of Tisdale or stopping her from filming.

However, Clint Bearden, an attorney who is on the short list to become a state superior court judge, testified on rebuttal that Hudgens was outraged by being filmed and wanted Tisdale to stop.

Bearden said he told Burt’s Pumpkin Farm co-owner Johnny Burt that some of the campaigns were concerned about being filmed, and Burt responded by saying, “Tell her to turn off the camera.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost exhibits a stumbling block for Tisdale defense

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Defense attorney Bruce Harvey

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – After a 12-hour day in Dawson County Superior Court Thursday, the Nydia Tisdale trial came to a shocking and unexpected end when defense attorney Bruce Harvey reported that a stack of exhibits he planned to present were missing from the courtroom.

Senior Superior Court Judge Martha Christian was ready to call the jury back into the courtroom following a late-evening 30-minute break when Harvey approached the bench to inform her that a stack of exhibits he left on the court reporter’s desk were missing.

“Can you say with absolute certainty you left those exhibits with the court reporter on the court reporter’s desk?” she asked. Harvey said he could say that. Christian then directed him and Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer to call their clients and ask if one of them had inadvertently walked away with the exhibits.

Judge Martha Christian

She then called the jury back and dismissed them for the evening shortly after 9 p.m. with instructions to plan on continuing the case next week.

Tisdale was charged with one count of felony obstruction of an officer and two misdemeanor counts of obstruction and criminal trespass at a Republican political rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in August 2014.

It was not a good day for the defense. Earlier in the day, the judge quashed a subpoena for Governor Nathan Deal, calling it “unreasonable and obtrusive.” When the state rested its case, Harvey moved for a directed verdict and that was denied.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

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Former AG testimony could be pivotal in Nydia Tisdale’s trial in Superior Court

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Tisdale struggles to escape Dawson County Sheriff’s Capt. Tony Wooten. (Photo by Brian K. Pritchard).

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Governor Nathan Deal and former Attorney General Sam Olens, two of Georgia’s most prominent political figures, are expected to testify at Nydia Tisdale’s trial in Dawson County Superior Court this week.

Tisdale is charged with felony obstruction of an officer, misdemeanor obstruction and criminal trespass stemming from her conduct at a Republican political rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in August 2014. Deal, Olens, Senator David Perdue, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and School Superintendent Richard Woods were featured speakers. All have been subpoenaed.

While the event was advertised as “open to the public,” it took place on private property owned by Johnny and Kathy Burt. Johnny Burt testified Wednesday that he did not authorize the ads, and he wanted Tisdale to stop filming or leave. When she refused, he told then Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten to “get her out of here.”

Witnesses said when Wooten attempted to lead Tisdale away from the crowd, she began screaming and flailing her arms and hit Wooten in the face and was subsequently placed under arrest.

The audio and pictures of the struggle were captured by Brian K. Pritchard of Fetch Your News, who was seated directly behind Tisdale. Pritchard is also expected to testify, possibly as early as today (Nov. 30).

At the time of the arrest, Olens was the top law enforcement official in Georgia. Public comments he made after Tisdale’s arrest could be pivotal in the case. Olens questioned the political wisdom of having her removed, saying: “What are we saying here that shouldn’t be on film? What message are we sending?”

But he added, “It is private property. The property owner has the right to not have the person there.”

The state could wrap up its case today. The defense will then begin calling its witnesses.

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State presents case against “citizen journalist”

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Nydia Tisdale (left) confers with her defense team during Tuesday’s trial in Dawson County Superior Court.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Prosecutors presented a string of witnesses who testified Tuesday that self-proclaimed citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale refused repeated requests by Burt’s Pumpkin Farm owners to stop filming a political rally on their property in August 2014.

Event coordinator Clint Bearden testified that Tisdale ignored at least five requests to stop filming before she was physically removed by Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten. Tisdale has been charged with one felony and one misdemeanor count of obstruction of an officer and criminal trespassing after the officer said she elbowed him in the face and kicked him in the shin.

Clint Bearden, an attorney and magistrate judge who is on a short list to become a state superior court judge, testified that he organized the event that included some of Georgia’s top politicians, including Gov. Nathan Deal and then U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue.

Bearden said he and Wooten talked to property owner Johnny Burt who wanted Tisdale to stop filming or leave. He said he asked her 3-4 times to stop and she ignored him. “I thought she was a little rude,” he said. “She said she had permission from the owners, but I told her I had just talked to Johnny Burt and she did not have permission.”

Johnny Burt testified that when Wooten told her to stop filming or leave “she just blurted out ‘No’. So I told him to get her out of here. She was screaming out that my wife told her she could film, and I told her that wasn’t true.”

Kasey Sanders, the Burts’ daughter testified that she was at the entrance when Tisdale arrived and that she never asked for permission. “She just said she was there to film for the governor,” Sanders said.

In an audio recording produced by Brian K. Pritchard of Fetch Your News, Tisdale can be heard screaming for Wooten to identify himself.

Wooten, who was dressed in a black polo shirt with a silver embroidered sheriff’s badge and khakis also had a badge on his belt, his service revolver and a police-issued radio.

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey asked Wooten why he didn’t immediately identify himself. Wooten responded that his first responsibility was the safety of the crowd. “I didn’t know her or what her intentions were,” he said. He said once he got her away from the crowd and she calmed down, he did identify himself.

The trial continues Wednesday in Dawson County Superior Court.

After the jury was dismissed for the day, Judge Martha Christian denied a motion to quash a subpoena for Gov. Nathan Deal who is expected to testify before the end of the week.

The state is expected up wrap up its case Wednesday before the defense begins calling its witnesses.

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Nydia Tisdale obstruction trial finally begins

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The long-awaited trial of Nydia Tisdale, the self-proclaimed citizen journalist charged with two counts of obstruction of an officer, began today (Nov. 27) in Dawson County Superior Court.

Tisdale was arrested by Dawson County Sheriff’s Captain Tony Wooten in August 2014 while filming a political candidate rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawson County. If convicted, she could face five years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer

Tisdale claims she had the property owner’s permission to film the event. However, owners, Johnny and Kathy Burt, told Dawsonnews.com Tisdale misled them. They say they asked Wooten to tell her to stop filming or leave their property. Wooten says when she refused to stop filming, he arrested her. According to the arrest warrant, Tisdale elbowed Wooten in the face and kicked him in the shin.

Day one of the trial began with several motions by Defense Attorney Bruce Harvey and Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer. Senior Superior Court Judge Martha Christian said she would rule on motions prior to hearing opening statements.

Jury selection is expected to continue through late Tuesday (Nov. 28), followed by opening statements by both attorneys.

Defense Attorney Bruce Harvey

Fetch Your News owner Brian K. Pritchard attended the rally at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm on the day Tisdale was arrested. It was his audio recording and subsequent reporting of the incident that attracted state and national attention. Pritchard said he has been subpoenaed by the state and is expected to testify this week.

The arrest sparked outrage by the mainstream media and political activists who claim Tisdale’s First Amendment rights had been violated. Property rights advocates, on the other hand, say property owners have every right to evict someone from their property.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 


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