Judge dismisses charges against Georgia publisher, lawyer

JASPER, Ga. (AP) — A judge has dismissed the charges against a north Georgia newspaper publisher and his attorney who were jailed in an open records dispute.

Multiple news media report that Senior Judge Richard Winegarden on Monday dismissed the charges against Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason and attorney Russell Stookey after holding a hearing.

The two were indicted June 24 on charges of identity theft and attempt to commit identity theft stemming from subpoenas they issued. The indictment also accused Thomason of making a false statement in an Open Records Act request.

The case stems from a legal battle with a court reporter and the payment of the reporter's legal bills from a judge's operating account.

The charges drew condemnation from journalism organizations and garnered national attention.