On Monday afternoon a Dawson County jury unanimously found citizen journalist Nydia Tisdale guilty of a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of an officer for resisting arrest by former Capt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.
After nearly four hours of deliberation, the jury also unanimously found Tisdale, 54, not guilty of a felony charge of obstruction of an officer as well as not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass.
Senior Superior Court Judge Martha Christian was prepared to precede into a sentencing hearing, but defense attorney Bruce Harvey said after the verdict was read that he was unprepared to enter into a sentencing hearing due to the lateness of the hour and the need to give witnesses notice.
Christian said that a sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 18 at the Dawson County Courthouse.
Tisdale declined to comment on the outcome, but her lawyers seemed confused by the verdict.
"A good compromise leaves everybody mad, right?" said defense attorney Catherine Bernard. "We are certainly grateful for the jury's service, they really took it seriously and spent a lot of time on it."
Tisdale's other attorney, Bruce Harvey, said that the verdict was, in his opinion, inconsistent.
"When the jury says...you're not guilty of the [trespass] offense, you're not guilty of the felony offense of obstruction, but you shouldn't have resisted him dragging you away, pushing you over a table, putting your head down and keeping you in an arm-lock...seemed somewhat inconsistent to me," Harvey said.
"I hope that everybody, everybody in this case learns a lesson about just let people see what it is that their candidates stand for," Harvey concluded. "Just let everybody be part of the American process, part of the Republican process."
Tisdale was arrested while recording an Aug. 24, 2013 GOP rally held at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville.
Tisdale was indicted by a grand jury in March of 2016 and charged with one felony count of obstruction of an officer and misdemeanor counts of obstruction of an officer and criminal trespass after she was forcibly removed from the rally by then-Capt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.
Tisdale was accused of kicking Wooten in the shins and elbowing him in the face while being escorted off the property, as well as refusing to leave private property when asked by Wooten, who represented the property owners.
Witnesses testified Tisdale was asked twice to stop filming the political candidates speaking at the rally before Wooten forcibly escorted her into a nearby barn to await backup.
Tisdale said she did not know Wooten’s name or that he was a police officer when the incident occurred, and that he sexually assaulted her while he held her in the barn with her arms behind her back.
She also said she was never asked to leave the farm before she was forcibly removed.
This is not the first legal battle that Tisdale has been involved in.
In early 2015, Tisdale was awarded $200,000 in a settlement by the City of Cumming, where she was thrown, illegally, from a city council meeting that she was attempting to record.
In August of 2015, Tisdale filed notice that a lawsuit against the Dawson County Sheriff's Office and Dawson County Board of Commissioners was looming unless a settlement could be reached in the case.
The notice said Tisdale was seeking $550,000 and a public apology from Wooten, who she claims made inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with her while attempting to take her into custody.
After Tisdale was indicted and pleaded not guilty to the obstruction and trespassing charges in Dawson County, she filed a federal lawsuit in Gainesville claiming the arresting officers violated her constitutional rights and asked to take the civil case before a jury in May of 2016.
The suit against three Dawson County Sheriff's deputies claims her First, Fourth and 14th Amendments were violated in the arrest, and Capt. Tony Wooten, Cpl. Russell Smith and Cpl. Laura Bishop were personally named in the suit.
Tisdale also filed a suit against the Burts seeking punitive damages, litigation which she filed on Aug. 22, 2016 in Dawson County Superior Court. The case was later voluntarily dismissed.