We Support George Chidi. We Support The First Amendment.

On Monday, Peach Pundit contributor George Chidi posted this piece on Tom Owens, a candidate for DeKalb County’s Commission.  It’s detailed. It’s thorough. It’s tough but it’s fair.  It’s the work of a professional journalist.

Mr. Owens’ response was to accuse George Chidi of stalking him.  He sought and received a temporary protective order from a DeKalb County Magistrate Judge ordering George not to contact Mr. Owens or come within 100 feet of him.

Mr. Chidi has only contacted Mr. Owens at public events and via calls/text messages.  As the tough but fair professional that he is, he wanted to give Mr. Owens every opportunity to get his side of the story on the record as part of George’s piece.

Instead, Mr. Owens has sought not only to chill the efforts of a journalist trying to investigate and inform about the history of a public figure, but has had Mr. Chidi receive a notice from the court that he has violated the TPO by writing about receiving the TPO on his own blog and Facebook.

This, in any reasonable assessment, is unconscionable.

Nine years ago, PeachPundit was launched as a site for discussing Georgia politics.  Today we operate as an established news organization. Our editors are routinely offered press credentials to political events at the State and National level.  Because of sites like PeachPundit, traditional media outlets have embraced and extended the blog format, recognizing that good journalism takes many different forms.

Mr. Chidi is a published freelance reporter with contributions to publications such as The Guardian, The AJC, and Inc. Magazine. Although PeachPundit is considered by some to be ‘right leaning’, Mr. Chidi, has among the many items on his resume that he was an Occupy Atlanta Organizer. Claiming that the ‘blog’ format is not journalism is disingenuous. Dismissing Mr. Chidi’s professional journalism credentials as both a freelancer and contributor to this site is unacceptable.

Those of us at Peach Pundit come from diverse backgrounds and ideologies, but share in common the spirt of learning and reporting the truth, wherever that journey leads us.

Despite our varied political differences, we as the Publisher and Editors of Peach Pundit fully support George Chidi, journalist, and his right to report without the blatantly unconstitutional interference from the DeKalb County Magistrate’s court.  We stand behind George, and will fight to ensure that he continues to be able to report the truth, even when others wish to abuse the legal system as part of a pattern of intimidation.

68 comments

    • Yep. Give’em hell.

      Policy opinions aside – the PP community supports our right to discuss what our public officials (and those running for public office) are doing in a public forum.

      Editors, let us know how we can help.

  1. saltycracker says:

    Why isn’t the Magistrate Judge’s name mentioned along with his reasons for the injunction ?
    This is just too bizarre, even for DeKalb.
    George is gonna love all of us far right white guys rallying for him on this one, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable ! 🙂

    • dsean says:

      The magistrate only saw the ex parte application from Owens. She had no way of knowing that George was a journalist or that the TPO was in retaliation for George’s article. Should she fail to quash the order and (possibly) sanction Owens for his egregious conduct, then she would be deserving of opprobrium. As of right now, the Court is as much of victim of Owens’ actions as George is.

  2. Ralph says:

    Overly aggressive/ stalking reporters and bloggers should not be shielded by the 1st Amendment.

    Either accept “No comment”, “You’re on private property”, or suffer the legal consequences of harrassment and trespassing.

    • Cinderella says:

      You clearly do not understand the issue, and the facts. Nor do you understand the definition of “harassment”, or that trespassing has not been a factor.

  3. smh says:

    Note that it’s actually the Superior Court that is violating Mr. Chidi’s rights. The judge who signed the order, Nora Polk, was sitting in for the actual Superior Court judge, Cynthia Becker, who has been assigned this case. Judge Becker probably hasn’t seen anything about this and probably won’t. It’s not clear if Judge Polk will be the judge who will hear the case on the 22nd.

    All that being said, Judge Polk should have never signed this order in the first place. These “temporary protective orders” are ripe for abuse, so the statute that governs how one goes about getting one requires the petitioner to set out exactly what facts justify the issuance of the TPO. If you review the actual petition that Mr. Owens submitted, it fails to set out any facts at all. Regardless of whether or not Judge Polk knew anything about Mr. Chidi being a journalist, this should have been tossed out for completely failing to make even a prima facie case. Shameful.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      My recollection is that Judge Becker was moderator of a 18 Sept north DeKalb candidate forum attended by Owens (as well as the other DeKalb County Commission District 1 candidates), where I read later that Chidi and Owens spoke to each other.

      I’d commented on another thread about my disappointment concerning District 1 candidates after the forum. Owens presented himself there as somewhat eccentric, so Chidi’s revelation of Owen’s background was no surprise.

      Indeed it’s a shameful waste.

  4. This issue is much bigger than a single political campaign. Regardless of one’s opinion of any candidates, this is a judge who has made a terrible decision.

    I support George Chidi.

  5. Jon Lester says:

    I’ve tried to help spread the word, and I’ve had some multi-partisan success, even in the shadow of the Todd Gurley thing. I’m very proud of the Peach Pundit community now.

  6. ANTiSEEN says:

    Did Owens not go to the Judge before the Chidi piece was posted? It seems the narrative here is that Chidi wrote the article, Owens had a problem with it, then Owens went out and got a TPO. The narrative that Owens got the TPO as a reaction to the Chidi article is just not factual. Owens was at the courthouse at the same time the article was posted since the TPO was issued at 9:52am, and the Chidi article was posted at 9:00am on October 6th. The talking point of Owens getting the TPO in reaction to the Chidi article is a false narrative, making this whole response article and the ensuing discussion a fantasy, and divorced from reality.

    • A fantasy huh?

      You’re forgetting the involvement of email newsletter guy. He sent out an email at about 7 AM on the 6th warning the world of Chidi’s intention to write an article. It’s clear from several emails he sent out that email newsletter guy is in direct communication with Owens and his associates.

      It was no secret that Chidi was going to write an article, he’d tried to give Owens a chance to give his side of the story. It’s likely Owens was tipped off that Chidi’s article was to be published on the 6th, tipped off email newsletter guy so he’d attack first, which he did, and then took off to the Courthouse to get the TPO. Thus Owens was obtaining the TPO in response to Chidi’s article as reported by the AP, the AJC and numerous other media outlets.

      • ANTiSEEN says:

        Mr. Brockway, that’s quite a conspiracy theory. Do you have any evidence to suggest how Owens was “tipped off”?

        You’re saying Owens was tipped off, he contacted Bill Simon, Simon wrote a blog a day early since he and Owens had been “tipped off” as you claim, and Owens followed through with the TPO the same morning as the Chidi article even though he knew he couldn’t stop it? To what end?

        The real question here is in the law, the facts of the case, and not the false narrative that the Chidi article alone initiated the TPO. If Chidi didn’t break the law, he has recourse against Owens.

        • John Konop says:

          Not sure what you are smoking and or drinking….you can spin your BS….all you want…A blind person could see through this….Free to have your opinion….at the same time nobody here will file a court against you for your views….

          • ANTiSEEN says:

            I’m not the one basing my opinion of the TPO against Chidi on a conspiracy theory, as Mr. Brockway has so clearly done here. How Bill Simon and Tom Owens conspired to get a TPO against George Chidi for stalking in retaliation to an unpublished article is the claim being made. I’d say let the court decide if Mr. Chidi did in fact break the law, and it’s found Mr. Owens claim is frivolous, thenr. Chidi will have every right to seek recourse to the fullest extent of the law.

        • Michael Silver says:

          In this matter, George will have no recourse against Owens since he won’t be able to prove damages, other than maybe attorney fees and from my experience I doubt those are recoverable. In the courts, even when you win, you lose. 🙁 Hopefully, I’m wrong.

          The Court needs to ask some hard questions of Mr. Owens and his attorney and then hold both accountable for their significant abuse of the process and the law. The Courts aren’t supposed to be pawns in political games.

          As for the timeline narrative, I can’t imagine a person running for office to be surprised that someone wants to write an article about them nor can I imagine that the people who George spoke too didn’t contact Owens to give him a heads up about the article well in advance of its publication.

          Bottom line, Owens is using the TRO and the Courts as cover to deflect from George’s story.

          #IstandwithGeorge

    • Shouldn’t the outrage here be on our judicial system? I don’t understand why you can get this TPO thing without any sort of rigor.

      Even if George did in fact say, “I’m going to destroy you”, I don’t think that would raise to the harrassment level. And, it seems this Owens guy is harassing these poor muslims to begin with.

      I’m grateful we have two independent journalists here – Bill Simon (The “email newsletter guy”) for providing context and depth on one side of the issue, and George Chidi for doing the same on the other side of the issue.

      I personally would like to see the magistrate court in general be reformed to require more than just a casual influence to issue … anything really. From TPOs to no Knock search warrants – you can see their standards are lower than a UGA drug tester.

      • dsean says:

        The whole point of a TPO is to be fast and magistrates are generally supposed to grant them without much of an inquiry. The reason is that they are designed as a tool to get an abuser away from a dangerous situation and allow police to intervene on their behalf. They weren’t designed for stalking situations initially, but later adopted for that purpose. Clearly there’s an abuse of the TPO system here, but I don’t think the magistrate actually did anything wrong. The rigor comes at the hearing to convert the TPO into a permanent order.

  7. BriscoeDarlin says:

    Is the info used to get the restraining order public record or could George post on here what Owens submitted to the judge?

  8. WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

    Obviously if Owens has legal objections to what George has written on its merits he would have sued for libel. It is a shame that the courts can be used to infringe on the 1st Amendment, even temporarily.

Comments are closed.