Georgia Court System
I. THESIS STATEMENT:
A. The Georgia court system has five classes of trial-level courts: the magistrate, probate, juvenile, state, and superior courts. In addition, there are approximately 350 municipal courts operating locally. There are two appellate-level courts: the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
1. TRIAL COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
• Magistrate Court
• Probate Court
• Juvenile Court
• State Court
• Municipal Court
• Superior Court
• Jury Service
2. COURTS OF REVIEW
• Court of Appeals of Georgia
• Supreme Court of Georgia
• Court Funding
• At the Courthouse
• Serving the Courts
II. TRIAL COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
A. Magistrate ...view middle of the document...
Probate courts issue marriage licenses and licenses to carry firearms.
2. In counties where no state court exists, probate judges may hear traffic violations, certain misdemeanors, and citations involving the state game and fish laws. Many probate judges are authorized to serve as the county elections supervisor; they also administer oaths of office and make appointments to certain local public offices. In counties where the total population exceeds 96,000, the probate judge must be a licensed attorney who has practiced law for seven years.
C. Juvenile Court
1. Juvenile courts handle all cases involving deprived and neglected children under 18 years of age; delinquent and unruly offenses committed by children under 17 years of age; and traffic violations committed by juveniles. The juvenile courts also hear cases involving consent to marriage for minors, enlistment of minors in the military, and procedures for return of a runaway child resident who is taken into custody in another state.
2. Juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts in child custody and child support matters arising from divorces cases, and in proceedings to terminate parental rights. Original jurisdiction over juveniles who commit certain serious violent felonies resides in the superior courts.
3. Juvenile court judges are appointed by agreement of the superior court judges of the circuit to four-year terms of office.
D. State Court
1. State courts exercise limited jurisdiction within one county. These judges hear misdemeanors including traffic violations, issue search and arrest warrants, hold preliminary hearings in criminal cases and try civil matters not reserved exclusively for the superior courts. A state court is established by local legislation introduced in the General Assembly.
2. State court judges are elected to four-year terms in county-wide nonpartisan elections. Vacancies in state court may be filled by appointment of the Governor.
E. Municipal Court
1. Cities and towns in Georgia establish municipal courts to handle traffic offenses, local ordinance violations, conduct preliminary hearings, issue warrants, and in some instances hear misdemeanor shoplifting and possession of marijuana cases. Municipal court judges are often appointed by the mayor, some are elected. There are more than 350 municipal courts operating in Georgia.
F. Superior Court
1. The superior court exercises both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Superior court judges preside over all felony trials, have exclusive jurisdiction over divorces and may correct errors made by limited jurisdiction courts. The forty-nine superior court circuits in Georgia are made up of one or more counties; each circuit has a chief superior court judge and a number of other judges as authorized by the General Assembly.
2. Superior court judges are constitutional officers who are elected to four-year terms in circuit-wide nonpartisan elections. Vacancies that occur in...