Aide of former Atlanta mayor wants new trial in records case

An ex-aide of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has requested a new trial to appeal her conviction of violating the state's open records laws

ATLANTA -- An ex-aide of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has requested a new trial to appeal her conviction for violating the state's open records laws.

Jenna Garland previously served as press secretary under Reed. She was convicted in December on two misdemeanor counts after she directed a subordinate to “drag out” a records request that a local TV station had made.

Garland's attorneys filed a motion requesting a new trial last week, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday.

Scott Grubman, one of Garland’s lawyers, called this “the first step in the appeals process.”

Her attorneys have argued that evidence did not support the verdict, that the court failed to properly instruct juries and that a motion for a mistrial was not granted.

“We look forward to our day in court to argue why we think the verdict is incorrect and should be overturned,” Grubman said.

Garland was the first person to be charged and convicted of criminally violating the Georgia Open Records Act, the newspaper reported.

The state argued that Garland was trying to save Reed and other top officials from embarrassment and that’s why she involved herself in requests by WSB-TV for water billing records for Reed’s brother, Tracy, and council members. Garland told a subordinate, Lillian Govus, in March 2017 that WSB-TV made a request for billing records connected to Tracy Reed. Garland told Govus to “drag this out as long as possible,” and “provide information in the most confusing format available.”

Garland later instructed Govus to “hold all” records until a television station producer contacted Govus for an update on records she requested related to city council members, even though the records were ready to be released. Those text exchanges form the basis for the two criminal citations.

Garland was sentenced to pay a total of $1,500 in fines for the two counts.