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Partner Tex McIver Serves as Special Assistant AG in Important Case

12.12.13

Atlanta partner Tex McIver, serving as a Special Assistant Attorney General (SAAG) representing Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the State of Georgia, was part of the litigation team obtaining a favorable unanimous decision from the Georgia Supreme Court involving the Open Records Act.

In that case, Coleman et al. v. Gov. Deal, et al, the GA Supreme Court rebuffed a challenge to a law blocking an attempt by a group of unionized autoworkers to examine documents from QuickStart, a state job training program used to help bring new industry to Georgia.

The case was initiated in December 2011, when four autoworkers sued Gov. Deal, the commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia and KIA Motors Manufacturing after being denied access to records pertaining to the West Point KIA plant and Georgia’s QuickStart Program. The workers attempted to determine what role the State played, if any, in the hiring practices at the KIA plant, which relied on QuickStart to find workers. They wanted to build a discrimination case against KIA, claiming the company didn't offer jobs to them or their family members because of their union affiliation.

While the suit was pending, the General Assembly amended the Open Records Act to keep secret any records that would disclose a potential economic development project until a binding agreement was secured by the State and a soon-to-be new employer to Georgia.

The autoworkers had argued that it would be unconstitutional to apply the law, which the State said exempted those documents from open records laws, given that the workers already had filed their document request and a lawsuit before the legislation was passed. A Fulton County judge had agreed with that argument, but the Supreme Court ruled that public access to records was not the sort of right that, once given, cannot be taken away.

In his 34-page opinion for the high court, Justice Keith Blackwell speaking on behalf of a unanimous court, rejected the autoworkers' argument that it would be unconstitutional to apply the job training program exemption to them.

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