UNIFORM RULES
FOR THE PROBATE COURT

ADOPTED
Pursuant to
ART. VI, SEC. IX, PAR. I
of the
CONSTITUTION OF 1983

BY

THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
with the advice and consent of
THE COUNCIL OF PROBATE COURT JUDGES

Effective July 1, 1985


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Preamble.

2. Definitions.

3. Appointment of attorney to act in judge's absence.

4. Attorneys - Appearance, withdrawal and duties.

5. Discovery.

6. Motions.

7. Pre-trial conferences.

8. Telephone conferencing.

9. Hearings.

10. Excusals from courtroom.

11. Argument.

12. Dismissal.

13. Default judgments.

14. Leaves of absence.

15. Conflicts- State and federal courts.

16. Transfer/change of venue.

17. Limitation of access to court files.

18. Electronic and photographic news coverage of judicial proceedings.

19. Motions.

20. Filing and processing.

21. Standard forms.

22. Citations.

23. Guardians ad litem and appraisers for year's support.

24. Investigation of Fiduciaries.

27. Arraignment.

28. Arraignment.

29. Criminal Trial Calendar.

30. Pleading by Defendant.

31. Evidence

Appendix A - Amendments





Rule 1. Preamble.

Pursuant to the inherent powers of the Court and Article VI, Section IX, Paragraph I of the Georgia Constitution of 1983, and in order to provide for the speedy, efficient and inexpensive resolution of disputes and prosecutions, these rules are promulgated. It is not the intention, nor shall it be the effect, of these rules to conflict with the Constitution or substantive law, either per se or in individual actions and these rules shall be so construed and in case of conflict shall yield to substantive law.


1.1. Repeal of local rules

All local rules of the probate courts except those relating to drawing of jurors by mechanical or electronic means pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 15-12-40(b) and 15-12-42(b) et seq. in effect as of the effective date of this Rule are hereby repealed.  

1.2. Authority to enact local rules

A) The term “local rules” will no longer be used in the context of the Uniform Probate Court Rules.

B) Each probate court judge, from time to time, may propose to make and amend local rules which deviate from the Uniform Probate Court Rules provided such proposals are not inconsistent with the Georgia Civic Practice Act, general laws, these Uniform Probate Court Rules, or any directive of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Any such proposals shall be filed with the clerk of the Supreme Court; proposals so submitted shall take effect 30 days after approval by the Supreme Court. It is the intendment of these rules that rules which deviate from the Uniform Probate Court Rules be restricted in scope.

C) Notwithstanding the repeal of local rules pursuant to Rule 1.1 courts may continue to promulgate rules which relate only to internal procedure and do not affect the rights of any party substantially or materially, either to unreasonably delay or deny such rights. These rules, which will be designated “internal operating procedures,” do not require the approval of the Supreme Court. “Internal operating procedures,” as used in these Uniform Probate Court Rules, are defined as rules which relate to case management, administration, and operation of the court or govern programs which relate to case management, administration, and operations of the court.     

             
D) The above provisions notwithstanding, each probate court defined in and governed under O.C.G.A. § 15-9-120 et seq. may retain or adopt without specific Supreme Court approval a local rule relating to drawing of jurors by mechanical or electronic means pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 15-12-40(b) and 15-12-42(b) et seq. and an order establishing guidelines governing excuses from jury duty pursuant to O.C.G.A.  § 15-12-10.

E) Notwithstanding these uniform rules, a judge may adopt experimental rules applicable to pilot projects, upon approval of the Supreme Court, adequately advertised to the local bar, with copies to the State Bar of Georgia, not to exceed a period of one year, subject to extension for one additional year upon approval of the circuit judges and the Supreme Court. At the end of the second year, any such pilot projects will either be approved by the Supreme Court or will be allowed to sunset.  Programs developed under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules of the Supreme Court will be approved by the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution before attaining permanent status under these rules.
   
F) Rules which are approved as deviations from the Uniform Probate Court Rules and internal operating procedures of courts shall be published by the court in which the rules are effective. Copies must be made available through the clerk of the probate court of each county where the rules are effective. Any amendments to deviations from the Uniform Probate Court Rules or to internal operating procedures must be published and made available through each probate court clerk’s office within 15 days of the effective date of the amendment or change.
  
G) Internal operating procedures effective in any court must be filed with the Supreme Court even though Supreme Court approval is not needed for these rules.






Rule 2. Definitions.


2.1. Attorney

The word “attorney” as used in these rules refers to any person who is an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia, and to any person who is permitted, as provided below in Rule 4.4, to represent a party in an action pending in a probate court of the State of Georgia, and to any person proceeding pro se in an action pending in a probate court of this state. The word “attorney” is synonymous with “counsel” in these rules.


2.2. Judge

The word "judge" as used in these rules refers to any of the several active judges of the probate courts of Georgia, and to any other person who may at the time be performing a judicial function of the probate court of this state in accordance with law.


2.3. Clerk

The word “clerk” as used in these rules refers to the clerk of any of the several probate courts in this state and to the staff members serving as deputy clerks.


2.4. Plaintiff/defendant/petition

The term "plaintiff" includes petitioner, applicant or propounder, and the term "defendant" includes caveator or respondent. "Petition" includes any application to the court for an order.


2.5. Non-sexist pronouns

For the sake of brevity only, the pronoun "he" shall include "she" and vice versa, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise; the pronoun "her" shall include "him" and vice versa, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.






Rule 3. Appointment of attorney to act in judge's absence.


Whenever a judge of the probate court appoints an attorney to act in his stead pursuant to O.C.G.A. §15-9- 13(a), said appointment shall be by written order which shall specify the cases or time period covered and shall be recorded in the minutes of the court. Whenever the attorney so appointed signs an order while acting as judge, there shall appear following such signature:
“Exercising the jurisdiction of the probate court pursuant to order of Judge ___________ dated __________, as provided by O.C.G.A. § 15-9-13(a).”  It shall not be necessary for the probate judge to confirm any such order when the judge resumes his jurisdiction. However, if the appointment was for an indefinite period, the judge shall enter and record an order terminating the appointment when he resumes jurisdiction. The forgoing is not intended to imply that §15-9-13(a) is the only allowable method of providing a substitute, but only to establish a uniform procedure when §15-9-13(a) is used.  






Rule 4. Attorneys - Appearance, withdrawal and duties.


4.1. Prohibition on ex parte communications

Except as authorized by law or by rule, judges shall neither initiate nor consider ex parte communications by interested parties or their attorneys concerning a pending or impending proceeding.


4.2. Entry of appearance

No attorney shall appear in that capacity before a probate court until he has entered an appearance by filing a signed entry of appearance form or by filing a signed pleading in a pending action. An entry of appearance shall state (1) the style and number; (2) the identity of the party for whom the appearance is made; and, (3) the name and current office address and telephone number of the attorney. The filing of any pleading, unless otherwise specified by the court, shall constitute an appearance by the person(s) signing such pleading.

Any attorney who has been admitted to practice in this state but who fails to maintain active membership in good standing in the State Bar of Georgia and who makes or files any appearance or pleading in a probate court of this state while not in good standing shall be subject to the contempt powers of the court.


4.3. Withdrawal

An attorney appearing of record in any action pending in any probate court, who wishes to withdraw as counsel for any party therein, shall submit a written request to the judge of said court for an order of court permitting such withdrawal. Such request shall state that the attorney has given due written notice to his client respecting such intention to withdraw 10 days (or such lesser time as the court may permit in any specific instance) prior to submitting the request to the court or that such withdrawal is with the client's consent. Such request will be granted unless in the judge's discretion to do so would delay the trial of the action or otherwise interrupt the orderly operation of the court or be manifestly unfair to the client. The attorney requesting an order permitting withdrawal shall give notice to opposing counsel and shall file with the clerk in each such action and serve upon his client, personally or at his last known address, a notice which shall contain at least the following information:

  1. That the attorney wishes to withdraw;
  2. That the court retains jurisdiction of the action;
  3. That the client has the burden of keeping the court informed respecting where notices, pleadings or other papers may be served;
  4. That the client has the obligation to prepare for trial or hire other counsel to prepare for trial when the trial date has been set;
  5. That if the client fails or refuses to meet these burdens, the client may suffer adverse consequences;
  6. The dates of any scheduled proceedings, including trial, and that holding of such proceedings will not be affected by the withdrawal of counsel;
  7. That service of notices may be made upon the client at his last known address; and,
  8. Unless the withdrawal is with the client's consent, the client's right to object within 10 days of the date of the notice.

The attorney seeking to withdraw shall prepare a written notification certificate stating that the above notification requirements have been met, the manner by which such notification was given to the client and the client's last known address and telephone number. The notification certificate shall be filed with the court and a copy mailed to the client and all other parties. The client shall have 10 days prior to entry of an order permitting withdrawal or such lesser time as the court may permit within which to file objections to the withdrawal. After the entry of an order permitting withdrawal, the client shall be notified by the withdrawing attorney of the effective date of the withdrawal; thereafter all notices or other papers may be served on the party directly by mail at the last known address of the party until new counsel enters an appearance.


4.4. Special admission of attorneys from other states

(A) When permitted by law or rules, any attorney admitted to practice in the courts of record of another state who desires to be specially admitted to practice in a specific action pending in a probate court of Georgia shall make application for such special admission to the judge of the probate court in which the action is pending or is to be brought. Such application shall contain the following information:

  1. Name, current address and telephone number of the attorney making such application;
  2. A listing of the state or states in which such attorney is duly licensed to practice;
  3. That he has associated in the action an attorney who is a resident of Georgia, and who is an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia;
  4. The name and current office address and telephone number maintained by the associated attorney.

The requirements of (3) and (4) above may be waived in writing by the judge.

(B) Service may be had upon the associated attorney in all matters connected with said action with the same effect as though personally made upon the out of state attorney specially admitted to practice in the action. The out of state attorney so admitted to practice in such action shall be subject to the orders of the court of this state and amenable to disciplinary action as though he were regularly admitted to practice in the State of Georgia.


4.5. Entries of appearance and withdrawals by members or employees of law firms or professional corporations

The entry of an appearance or request for withdrawal by an attorney who is a member or an employee of a law firm or professional corporation shall relieve the other members or employees of the same law firm or professional corporation from the necessity of filing additional entries of appearance or requests for withdrawal in the same action.


4.6. To notify of representation

In any matter pending in a probate court, promptly upon agreeing to represent any client, the new attorney shall notify the appropriate court and the opposing attorney(s) in writing of the fact of such representation, the name of the client, the name and number of the action, the attorney's firm name, office address and telephone number.

Each such attorney shall notify the court and the opposing attorney(s) in writing immediately upon any change of representation, name, address or telephone number.


4.7. To notify of settlements and dismissals

Immediately upon the settlement or dismissal of any civil action the involved attorneys shall notify the judge in writing of such event.


4.8. To attend and remain

Subject to the provisions of Rule 15, attorneys having matters on calendars, or who are otherwise directed to do so, unless excused by the court, are required to be in court at the call of the matter and to remain until otherwise directed by the court. Should the judge excuse counsel from the courtroom before the matter is concluded such attorney(s) shall return as directed. Failure of any attorney in this respect shall subject him to the contempt powers of the court.


4.9. Binding authority

An attorney of record has apparent authority to enter into agreements on behalf of his client(s). Oral agreements, if established, are enforceable.






Rule 5. Discovery.


In order for a party to utilize the court's compulsory process to compel discovery, any desired discovery procedures must first be commenced promptly, pursued diligently and completed without unnecessary delay and within 2 months after the filing of the answer unless for cause shown the time has been extended or shortened by court order.






Rule 6. Motions.


6.1. Filing

Every motion made prior to trial, except those consented to by all parties, when filed shall include or be accompanied by citations of supporting authorities and, where allegations of unstipulated fact are relied upon, supporting affidavits, or citations to evidentiary materials of record. The clerk shall promptly upon filing furnish a copy provided by the attorney of such motions and related materials to the judge.


6.2. Reply

Unless otherwise ordered by the judge, each party opposing a motion shall serve and file a response, reply memorandum, affidavits, or other responsive material not later than 30 days after service of the motion.


6.3. Hearing

Unless otherwise ordered by the court all motions in civil actions shall be decided by the court without oral hearing, except motions for new trial and motions for summary judgment. Oral argument on any motion shall be permitted upon written request.

6.4. Failure to make discovery and motion to compel discovery

(A) Motions to compel discovery in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 9-11-37 shall:

  1. Quote verbatim or attach a copy as an exhibit of each interrogatory, request for admission, or request for production to which objection is taken;
  2. Include the specific objection or response said to be insufficient;
  3. Include the grounds assigned for the objection (if not apparent from the objection); and,
  4. Include the reasons assigned as supporting the motion. Such objections and grounds shall be addressed to the specific interrogatory, request for admission, or request for production and may not be made generally.

(B) Prior to filing a motion to compel discovery, counsel for the moving party shall confer with counsel for the opposing party in a good faith effort to resolve the matters involved. At the time of filing the motion, counsel shall also file a statement certifying that such conference has occurred and that the effort to resolve by agreement the issues raised failed. If certain of the issues have been resolved by agreement, the statement shall specify the issues remaining unresolved.


6.5. Motions for summary judgment

Upon any motion for summary judgment pursuant to the Georgia Civil Practice Act, there shall be annexed to the notice of motion a separate, short and concise statement of each theory of recovery and of each of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried. The response shall include a separate, short and concise statement of each of the material facts as to which it is contended there exists a genuine issue to be tried.


6.6. Time for filing summary judgment motions

Motions for summary judgment shall be filed sufficiently early so as not to delay the trial. No trial shall be continued by reason of the delayed filing of a motion for summary judgment.


6.7. Motions in emergencies

Upon written notice and good cause shown, the judge may shorten or waive the time requirement applicable to emergency motions, except motions for summary judgment, or grant an immediate hearing on any matter requiring such expedited procedure. The motion shall set forth in detail the necessity for such expedited procedure.






Rule 7. Pre-trial conferences.


7.1. Procedures

The judge may set pre-trial conferences sua sponte or upon motion. In scheduling actions for pre-trial conferences the court shall give consideration to the nature of the action, its complexity and the reasonable time requirements for preparation for pre-trial. In the event a pre-trial conference is ordered, the following shall apply.

A calendar will be published or a written order issued specifying the time and place for the pre-trial conference. The court will consider the issues stated in Rule 16 of the Civil Practice Act (O.C.G.A. § 9-11-16) among others. Subject to the provisions of Rule 15, the pre-trial hearing shall be attended by the attorneys who will actually try the action; with the consent of the court, another attorney of record in the action may attend if authorized to define the issues and enter into stipulations. At the commencement of the pre-trial conference, or prior thereto upon written order of the court, counsel for each party shall present to the court a written proposed pre-trial order in substantially the form required by the rules. Failure of counsel to appear at the pre-trial conference without legal excuse or to present a proposed pre-trial order shall authorize the court to remove the action from any trial calendar, enter such pre-trial order as the court shall deem appropriate, or impose any other appropriate sanction, except dismissal of the action with prejudice.


7.2. Pre-trial order

At the pre-trial conference, or prior to that day if specified in the pre-trial calendar, counsel for each party shall have prepared and shall file with the court a proposed pre-trial order in substantially the following form:


THE PROBATE COURT OF ______________ COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA

(STYLE OF CASE)   ESTATE NO. ____________

PRE-TRIAL ORDER

The following constitutes a Pre-Trial Order entered in the above-styled case after conference with counsel for the parties:

1. The name, address and phone number of the attorneys who will conduct the trial are as follows:
Plaintiff __________________________________________________________________
Defendant ________________________________________________________________
Other ____________________________________________________________________

2. The estimated time required for trial is ____________________________________________

3. There are no motions or other matters pending for consideration by the court except as follows: _________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________

4.(a) All discovery has been completed, unless otherwise noted, and the court will not consider any further motions to compel discovery except for good cause shown. The parties, however, shall be permitted to take depositions of any person(s) for the preservation of evidence for use at trial.

(b) Unless otherwise noted, the names of the parties as shown in the caption to this order are correct and complete and there is no question by any party as to the misjoinder or nonjoinder of any parties.

5. The following is the Plaintiff's brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:(USE SPACE AS NEEDED)
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

6. The following is the Defendant's brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:(USE SPACE AS NEEDED)
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

7. The issues for determination by the court are as follows: ___________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

8. The following facts are stipulated: ___________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

9. The following is a list of all documentary and physical evidence that will be tendered at the trial by the Plaintiff or Defendant. Unless noted, the parties have stipulated as to the authenticity of the documents listed and the exhibits listed may be admitted without further proof of authenticity. All exhibits shall be marked by counsel prior to trial so as not to delay the trial.
a. By the Plaintiff:__________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
b. By the Defendant:________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

10. Special authorities relied upon by Plaintiff relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

11. Special authorities relied upon by Defendant relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

12. The testimony of the following persons may be introduced by depositions:_____________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

Any objection to the depositions or questions or arguments in the depositions shall be called to the attention of the court prior to trial.

13. The following are lists of witnesses the
a. Plaintiff will have present at trial:_____________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
b. Plaintiff may have present at trial:____________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
c. Defendant will have present at trial:___________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
d. Defendant may have present at trial:__________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

Opposing counsel may rely on representation by the designated party that he will have a witness present unless notice to the contrary is given in sufficient time prior to trial to allow the other party to subpoena the witness or obtain his testimony by other means.

14. (a) The possibilities of settling the case are:____________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
(b) The parties do/do not want the case reported. If they do, ________________________ will arrange for the reporter.
(c) The cost of take-down will be paid by:_______________________________________________________
(d) Other matters:



Submitted by:
______________________________________
______________________________________

It is hereby ordered that the foregoing, including the attachments thereto, constitutes the PRE-TRIAL ORDER in the above case and supersedes the pleadings which may not be further amended except by order of the court to prevent manifest injustice.
This __________________ day of __________________, _______________.

______________________________________
Judge, Probate Court
________________________________ County






Rule 8.Telephone and Video Conferencing.

8.1. Telephone conferencing.

The trial court on its own motion or upon the request of any party may in its discretion conduct pre-trial proceedings in civil actions by telephone conference with attorneys for all affected parties. The trial judge may specify:

A.The time and the person who will initiate the conference;

B.The party which is to incur the initial expense of the conference call, or the apportionment of such costs among parties, while retaining the discretion to make an adjustment of such upon final resolution of the case by taxing same as part of the costs; and

C.Any other matter or requirement necessary to accomplish or facilitate the telephone conference.

8.2. Video-conferencing.

(A) The following matters may be conducted by video-conference:

1. Determination of indigence and appointment of counsel;

2. Hearings on appearance and appeal bonds;

3. Initial appearance hearings;

4. Probable cause hearings;

5. Applications for arrest warrants;

6. Applications for search warrants;

7. Arraignments or waiver of arraignment;

8. Pretrial diversion and post-sentencing compliance hearings;

9. Entry of pleas in criminal cases;

10. Impositions of sentences upon pleas of guilty or nolo contendere

11. Probation revocation hearings in felony cases in which the probationer admits the violation and in all misdemeanor cases;

12. Post-sentencing proceedings in criminal cases;

13. Acceptance of special pleas of insanity (incompetence to stand trial);

14. Situations involving inmates with highly sensitive medical problems or who pose a high security risk; and

15. Testimony of youthful witnesses;

16. Ex-parte applications for Temporary Protective Orders under the Family Violence Act and the Stalking Statute;

17. Appearance of interpreters;

18. All mental health, alcohol and drug hearings held by the Probate Court pursuant to Title 37 of the Official Code of Georgia provided that the confidentiality prescribed by Title 37 be preserved.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this rule, a judge may order a defendant’s personal appearance in court for any hearing.

(B) Confidential Attorney-Client Communication.  Provision shall be made to preserve the confidentiality of attorney-client communications and privilege in accordance with Georgia law. In all criminal proceedings, the defendant and defense counsel shall be provided with a private means of communications when in different locations.

(C) Witnesses. In any pending matter, a witness may testify via video conference. Any party desiring to call a witness by video conference shall file a notice of intention to present testimony by video conference at least thirty (30) days prior to the date scheduled for such testimony. Any other party may file an objection to the testimony of a witness by video conference within ten (10) days of the filing of the notice of intention. In civil matters, the discretion to allow testimony via video conference shall rest with the trial judge. In any criminal matter, a timely objection shall be sustained; however, such objection shall act as a motion for continuance and a waiver of any speedy trial demand.

(D) Recording of Hearings. A record of any proceedings conducted by video conference shall be made in the same manner as all such similar proceedings not conducted by video conference. However, upon the consent of all parties, that portion of the proceedings conducted by video conference may by recorded by an audio-visual recording system and such recording shall be part of the record of the case and transmitted to courts of appeal as if part of a transcript.

(E) Technical Standards. Any video-conferencing system utilized under this rule must conform to the following minimum requirements:

  1. All participants must be able to see, hear, and communicate with each other simultaneously;
  2. All participants must be able to see, hear, and otherwise observe any physical evidence or exhibits presented during the proceeding, either by video facsimile, or other method;
  3. Video quality must be adequate to allow participants to observe each other’s demeanor and nonverbal communications; and
  4. The location from which the trial judge is presiding shall be accessible to the public to the same extent as such proceedings would if not conducted by video conference. The court shall accommodate any request by interested parties to observe the entire proceeding.

 






Rule 9. Hearings.


9.1. Setting contested hearings

Hearings on contested matters shall be set by the court upon the request of any interested party, at the next available hearing date, and notice shall be given by first class mail at least ten (10) days in advance to all interested parties. An interested party represented by an attorney shall be notified by giving notice to his attorney.


9.2. Continuances

An attorney requesting a continuance shall contact the other attorney to determine whether or not the other attorney objects. If the other attorney does not object, then the attorney requesting the continuance shall make his request known to the court, and the request will normally be granted. The request should be made immediately by telephone, and be followed up with a letter stating that the other party has consented to the continuance, with a copy to the other attorney. If the adverse party does not consent to the continuance, then a proper motion for continuance must be filed, and will be scheduled by the court in accordance with law.


9.3. Appeals - Probate court transcript not transmitted

The record which is transmitted to the superior court in connection with any de novo appeal from the probate court shall include certified copies of all documents which will be recorded in the official record books of the probate court. In addition, a certified copy of any alleged will which is denied probate will be transmitted even though it will not be recorded on the probate court records. No exhibits, transcript of hearing, depositions, interrogatories, notices to produce documents, or any other materials which reflect the evidence presented in the probate court shall be transmitted to the superior court in connection with a de novo appeal. Instead, any such materials in the possession of the court (other than documents required by law to be kept on file with the probate court) shall be returned to the attorney who presented them, if the probate court is requested to do so or does so on its own motion, and the attorney may then present them at the superior court hearing if he desires.






Rule 10. Excusals from courtroom.


During the course of a proceeding no one except the judge may excuse from the courtroom a party, a witness (including one who has testified), or counsel.






Rule 11. Argument.


11.1. Number of arguments

Not more than two attorneys shall be permitted to argue any case for any party except by leave of court; in no event shall more than one attorney for each party be heard in concluding argument.


11.2. Conclusion

Where the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, the plaintiff is entitled to the opening and concluding arguments except that if the defendant introduces no evidence or admits a prima facie case, he shall be entitled to open and conclude.






Rule 12. Dismissal.


On its own motion or upon motion of the opposite party, the court may dismiss without prejudice any action, or where appropriate, any pleading filed on behalf of any party upon the failure to properly respond to the call of the action for trial or other proceeding. The court may adjudge any attorney in contempt for failure to appear without legal excuse upon the call of any proceeding.






Rule 13. Default judgments.


Default judgments may be entered, or defaults may be opened, by the court pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-9-47 as set forth below:

  1. If required by the court, the party seeking entry of a default judgment in any action shall certify to the court the date and type of service effected as shown by court records and that there has been no defensive pleading from any party against whom the default judgment is sought. When required, any such certificate shall be in writing and must be attached to the proposed default judgment when presented to the judge for signature.
  2. Any party seeking to open a default must make the showing required by O.C.G.A. § 15-9-47 in writing under oath. The court may then enter an order, without notice or hearing, granting or denying the request to open the default.





Rule 14. Leaves of absence.


Application for leaves of absence must be in writing and shall be served upon opposing counsel at least 5 days (if such service is made personally) prior to submission to the judge of the court in which an action pends; such service shall be accomplished at least 10 days prior to submission to such judge if service upon opposing counsel is other than personal. This time period may be waived if opposing counsel consents in writing to the application. This procedure permits opposing counsel to object or to consent to the grant of the application, but the application is addressed to the discretion of the court. Such application for leave of absence shall contain:

  1. A list of the actions to be protected, which shall include the file or estate number;
  2. The reason for the requested leave of absence; and
  3. The duration of the requested leave of absence.

A leave when granted shall relieve any attorney from all trials, hearings, depositions and other legal proceedings in that matter.






Rule 15. Conflicts - State and federal courts.


15.1. Method of resolution

  1. An attorney shall not be deemed to have a conflict unless: (1) he is lead counsel in two or more of the actions affected; and, (2) he certifies that the matters cannot be adequately handled, and the client's interest adequately protected, by other counsel for the party in the action or by other attorneys in lead counsel's firm.
  2. When an attorney is scheduled to appear in two or more courts (trial or appellate; state or federal), at the same time and cannot arrange for other counsel to represent adequately his client's interests, the attorney shall give prompt written notice of the conflict to opposing counsel, to the clerk of each court and to the judge before whom each action is set for hearing. Attorneys confronted by such conflicts are expected to exercise diligence in giving such notice. The judges before whom such actions pend or the clerks of the respective courts shall confer, undertaking to resolve the conflict by agreement. Absent agreement, conflicts shall be promptly resolved by the judges or the clerk of each affected court in accordance with the following order of priorities:
    1. Criminal (felony) actions shall prevail over civil actions;
    2. Jury trials shall prevail over non-jury matters including trials and administrative proceedings;
    3. Trials shall prevail over appellate arguments, hearings and conferences;
    4. The action which was first filed shall take precedence.

15.2. Notice of resolution

The judges or clerks of the courts in which such conflicts exist shall give prompt written notice to all counsel of the manner in which the conflicts have been resolved.






Rule 16. Transfer/change of venue.


16.1. Procedure

  1. Subject to the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-12 and section (C) of this rule, a timely motion in any pending action or proceeding (1) by any party, that jurisdiction is lacking or that venue is improper, or (2) by the court, sua sponte, that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, shall be treated as a motion to transfer the action to another court, whether in the same or another county of this state.
  2. The moving party shall specify the court(s) having jurisdiction and in which venue properly would lie.
  3. If the basis of the motion is that a party necessary to the court's jurisdiction has been dismissed during or at the conclusion of the trial, the motion shall be made immediately and orally; any opposition shall be made orally. Should the motion to transfer be granted as to the remaining parties, the claim against the party dismissed shall be severed, so that the order of dismissal will be final for purposes of appeal.
  4. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, notice of a written motion to transfer shall be served upon all parties, including any who failed to file pleadings in the matter, at least 10 days before the motion is heard. A party opposing a written motion to transfer shall notify the court and all other parties in writing within 10 days after service upon that party of the motion to transfer; such notice shall designate the basis upon which it is claimed that the court in which the action pends has jurisdiction and upon which venue is claimed to be proper.
  5. When a motion to transfer is filed, the court may stay all other proceedings in the pending action until determination of the motion.
  6. No action or proceeding may be transferred except upon written order of the court in which the action pends (transferor court), reasonable notice of which shall be given to all parties. This order shall specify the court to which the matter is to be transferred (transferee court) and shall state that unless plaintiff pays all accrued court costs within 20 days of mailing or delivery of the cost bill to plaintiff, the action shall automatically stand dismissed without prejudice.
    The court ruling upon a motion to transfer may award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party; if the court grants the motion, transfer costs of $50 shall be taxed, unless the court expressly determines otherwise, in its discretion.
  7. When an order transferring an action is filed with the clerk of the court entering such order, the clerk shall promptly compute the court costs, including the costs incident to preparing and transferring the record as provided in subparagraph (H) of this rule, and shall notify counsel for plaintiff (or, the plaintiff, if he has no counsel of record) in writing of the amount of the court costs. Plaintiff shall pay the costs within 20 days of mailing or delivery of the cost bill; if costs are not paid within that time, the action shall automatically stand dismissed, without prejudice.
  8. Upon timely payment of costs, the clerk of the transferor court shall make and retain copies of (1) the petition or initial pleading, (2) the motion to transfer if in writing, and (3) the order of transfer. The originals of all pleadings, orders, depositions and other papers on file shall be indexed and certified by the clerk of the transferor court and transmitted, with the transfer cost (if applicable), to the clerk of the transferee court in the manner provided by law for transmittal of records to appellate courts.
  9. Upon receipt of the items specified in subparagraph (H) of this rule, the clerk of the transferee court shall assign the action an appropriate number and notify all parties and their respective counsel of record thereof. The action thereafter shall continue in the transferee court as though initially commenced there; all items specified in subparagraph (H) of this rule shall be deemed amended accordingly. It shall not be necessary that service of process be perfected a second time upon parties defendant, except that any publication required to be made in a newspaper in the proper venue shall be republished. Any interlocutory or other order theretofore entered in the action, upon the motion of any party, shall be reviewed, and thereafter reissued or vacated by the court to which the action was transferred.





Rule 17. Limitation of access to court files.


All court records are public and are to be available for public inspection unless public access is limited by law or by the procedure set forth below.


17.1. Motions and orders

Upon motion by any party to any action, after hearing, the court may limit access to court files respecting that action. The order of limitation shall specify the part of the file to which access is limited, the nature and duration of the limitation, and the reason for limitation.


17.2. Finding of harm

An order limiting access shall not be granted except upon a finding that the harm otherwise resulting to the privacy of a person in interest clearly outweighs the public interest.


17.3. Ex parte orders

Under compelling circumstances, a motion for temporary limitation of access, not to exceed 30 days, may be granted, ex parte, upon motion accompanied by supporting affidavit.


17.4. Review

A copy of an order limiting access shall be transmitted to and subject to review by the Supreme Court.


17.5. Amendments

Upon notice to all parties of record and after hearing, an order limiting access may be reviewed and amended by the court entering such order or by the Supreme Court at any time on its own motion or upon the motion of any person for good cause.






Rule 18. Electronic and photographic news coverage of judicial proceedings.


Unless otherwise provided by rule of the Supreme Court or otherwise ordered by the judge after appropriate hearing (conducted after notice to all parties and counsel of record) and findings, representatives of the print and electronic public media may be present at and unobtrusively make written notes and sketches pertaining to any judicial proceedings in the probate courts. However, due to the distractive nature of electronic or photographic equipment, representatives of the public media utilizing such equipment are subject to the following restrictions and conditions:

  1. Persons desiring to broadcast/record/photograph official court proceedings must file a timely written request (form attached as Exhibit "A") with the judge involved prior to the hearing or trial, specifying the particular case or proceedings for which such coverage is intended; the type equipment to be used in the courtroom; the trial, hearing or proceeding to be covered; and the person responsible for installation and operation of such equipment.
  2. Approval of the judge to broadcast/record/photograph a proceeding, if granted, shall be granted without partiality or preference to any person, news agency, or type of electronic or photographic coverage, who agrees to abide by and conform to these rules, up to the capacity of the space designated therefor in the courtroom. Violation of these rules will be grounds for a reporter/technician to be removed or excluded from the courtroom and held in contempt.
  3. The judge, in his discretion, may require pooled coverage which would allow only one still photographer, one television camera and attendant, and one radio or tape recorder outlet and attendant. Photographers, electronic reporters and technicians shall be expected to arrange among themselves pooled coverage if so directed by the judge and to present the judge with a schedule and description of the pooled coverage. If the covering persons cannot agree on such a schedule or arrangement, the judge may, in his discretion, designate the schedule and arrangements for pooled coverage.
  4. The positioning and removal of cameras and electronic devices shall be done quietly and, if possible, before or after the court session or during recesses; in no event shall such disturb the proceedings of the court. In every such case, equipment should be in place and ready to operate before the time court is scheduled to be called to order.
  5. Overhead lights in the courtroom shall be switched on and off only by court personnel. No other lights, flashbulbs, flashes or sudden light changes may be used unless the judge approves beforehand.
  6. No adjustment of central audio system shall be made except by persons authorized by the judge. Audio recordings of the court proceedings will be from one source, normally by connection to the court's central audio system. Upon prior approval of the court, other microphones may be added in an unobtrusive manner to the court's public address system.
  7. All television cameras, still cameras and tape recorders shall be assigned to a specific portion of the public area of the courtroom or specially designed access areas, and such equipment will not be permitted to be removed or relocated during the court proceedings.
  8. Still cameras, movie and television cameras and broadcasting and recording devices must operate quietly. If any equipment is determined by the judge to be of such noise as to be distractive to the court proceedings, then such equipment can be excluded from the courtroom by the judge.
  9. Photographs and televising of the public and the courtroom are allowed, if done without disruption to the court proceedings.
  10. Reporters, photographers, and technicians must have and produce upon request of court officials credentials identifying them and the media company for which they work.
  11. Court proceedings shall not be interrupted by a reporter or technician with a technical or an equipment problem.
  12. Reporters, photographers, and technicians should do everything possible to avoid attracting attention to themselves. Reporters, photographers, and technicians will be accorded full right of access to court proceedings for obtaining public information within the requirements of due process of law, so long as it is done without detracting from the dignity and decorum of the court.
  13. Other than as permitted by these rules and guidelines, there will be no photographing, radio or television broadcasting, including video taping pertaining to any judicial proceedings on the courthouse floor where the trial, hearing or proceeding is being held or any other courthouse floor whereon is located a probate court courtroom, whether or not the court is actually in session.
  14. No interviews pertaining to a particular judicial proceeding will be conducted in the courtroom except with the permission of the judge.
  15. All media plans heretofore approved by the Supreme Court for probate courts are hereby repealed.

EXHIBIT ‘A’
IN THE PROBATE COURT OF _________________ COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA

(STYLE OF CASE)     ESTATE OR FILE NO. _________________

REQUEST TO INSTALL RECORDING AND/OR PHOTOGRAPHING EQUIPMENT PURSUANT TO RULES AND GUIDELINES FOR ELECTRONIC AND PHOTOGRAPHIC NEWS COVERAGE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS.


Pursuant to Rule 18 of the Uniform Probate Court Rules, the undersigned hereby requests permission to install equipment in courtroom ______ in order to record, photograph or televise all or portions of the proceedings in the above-captioned case.

Consistent with the provisions of the rules and guidelines, the undersigned desires to install the following described equipment: _____________________________ in the following locations:____________________________________________. The proceedings that the undersigned desires to record, photograph or televise commence on ___(DATE)___. Subject to direction from the court regarding possible pooled coverage, the undersigned wishes to install this equipment in the courtroom on ___(DATE)___. The personnel who will be responsible for the installation and operation of this equipment during its use are:___(IDENTIFY APPROPRIATE PERSONNEL)___.

The undersigned hereby certifies that the equipment to be installed and the locations and operation of such equipment will be in conformity with the rules and guidelines issued by the court.

This _____________ day of _______________, ______________.

___________________________________
(Individual Signature)
___________________________________
(Representing/Firm)
___________________________________
(Position)
___________________________________
(Address)
___________________________________
(Telephone Number)

APPROVED:

___________________________________
Judge, Probate Court
______________________________County






Rule 19. Recusal.


19.1. Motions

All motions to recuse or disqualify a judge presiding in a particular case or proceeding shall be in writing, accompanied by an affidavit asserting the facts upon which the motion is founded, and timely filed. Filing and presentation to the judge shall be not later than 5 days after the affiant first learned of the alleged grounds for disqualification, and not later than 10 days prior to the hearing or trial which is the subject of recusal or disqualification, unless good cause be shown for failure to meet such time requirements. In no event shall the motion be allowed to delay the trial or proceeding.


19.2. Duty of the trial judge

When a judge is presented with a motion to recuse, or disqualify, accompanied by an affidavit, he shall temporarily cease to act upon the merits of the matter and shall immediately determine the timeliness of the motion and the legal sufficiency of the affidavit, and make a determination, assuming any of the facts alleged in the affidavit to be true, whether recusal would be warranted. If it is found that the motion is timely, the affidavit sufficient and that recusal would be authorized if some or all of the facts set forth in the affidavit are true, the motion to recuse shall be heard by a state court judge of the same county if available, or if not, a superior court judge from the same circuit.


19.3. Procedure upon a motion for disqualification

If the recusal motion is sustained, the probate judge shall be recused and a state court judge (other than the one who heard the motion) or an attorney with at least 2 years' experience shall be appointed by the judge who heard the recusal motion to sit in place of the recused judge.


19.4. Voluntary recusal

If a judge, either on his own motion or that of one of the parties, voluntarily disqualifies himself, another person shall be assigned (by the judge who would have heard the motion under Rule 19.2) to hear the matter involved. Such judge shall be selected by the procedure set forth in Rule 19.3 above.


19.5. Selection of judge

In the instance of any hearing on a motion to recuse or disqualify a judge, the challenged judge shall neither select nor participate in the selection of the judge to hear the motion. If recused or disqualified, the recused or disqualified judge shall not select nor participate in the selection of the person assigned to hear further proceedings in the involved action.






Rule 20. Filing and processing.


20.1. Preparation of documents

To the extent practical, all materials presented for filing in any probate court shall be typed, legibly written or printed in black ink suitable for reproduction, on opaque white paper measuring 81/2" x 11" of a good quality, grade and weight. Manuscript covers and backings shall be omitted wherever practical. Preparation of wills on 81/2" x 11" paper is encouraged but not mandatory.


20.2. Time of docketing

Actions shall be entered by the clerk in the proper docket immediately or within a reasonable period after being received in the clerk's office.


20.3. Caption

Every document or pleading presented for filing in a probate court shall bear a caption which sets out the exact nature of the pleading or the type of petition.


20.4. Signatures

All judgments, orders, pleadings and other documents shall bear the signature of the responsible attorney or party who prepared the document, his name, proper address and telephone number typed or printed underneath.


20.5. Location of original

All original documents, petitions and pleadings shall remain in the custody of the court except as provided by the judge, these rules, or as otherwise provided by law.


20.6. When documents considered filed

A document is considered filed only when it is received by the court, regardless of whether the document is delivered by hand or by mail to the court.


20.7. Minutes and final record

There shall be one or more books or microfilm records kept in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 15-9-37. After recording, the original may be destroyed according to the state retention schedule or stored off premises as provided by law.


20.8. Filing of transcripts

Any transcript requested by the probate judge shall be filed as directed by him, but the clerk shall not be required to record or preserve these in a bound book or on microfilm. See also Rule 9.3 concerning appeals.


20.9. File categories

The categories of files to be established by the clerk shall be such that documents are reasonably accessible.


20.10. Identification

Each matter shall be identified by year of filing, type of case and consecutive estate number.


20.11. Filing requirements

Pleadings or petitions presented to the clerk for filing shall be filed only when accompanied by the proper filing fee, fee for sheriff service or a pauper's affidavit, and, when applicable, any forms required by law or rule to be completed by the parties. The attorney or party filing the petition shall furnish the necessary service copies.


20.12. Return of service

Entry of return of service shall be made by the sheriff or other authorized person on a form provided by the clerk and filed with the clerk.


20.13. Advance costs

Advance costs paid upon filing shall be the minimum costs in a case.






Rule 21. Standard forms.


(A) Standard forms will gradually be adopted for statewide use for as many probate court procedures as practicable.

(B) For purposes of this rule, the term probate court procedure is to be narrowly construed; thus, for example, a petition to probate a will in solemn form, a petition to probate a will in common form, a petition to probate a copy of a will in lieu of a lost original, and a combined petition to probate a will and to appoint an administrator with the will annexed, are each considered to involve a separate procedure which is appropriate for the promulgation of a standard form. Similarly, an application for letters of administration, an application for temporary letters of administration, and an application for letters of administration with the will annexed (where the will has already been probated pursuant to a separate probate petition), are each considered to involve such a separate procedure. Any such standard form is to be separately utilized unless any instructions thereon specifically provide otherwise. In cases where it is foreseeable that confusion might exist as to whether certain related matters constitute one procedure for purposes of utilizing a standard form, instructions on the form will specify the scope of its use.

(C) A form, including any instructions, shall be considered adopted when it has been approved by a majority of probate judges present at the spring or fall probate judges' seminar, or summer or winter county officers' association meeting and by a majority of a duly-appointed committee of the State Bar of Georgia Fiduciary Law Section. In lieu of the above requirement of a majority of judges present, a majority of judges at any such meeting may delegate authority to approve forms to a committee of probate judges named at such meeting.

(D) The effective date of any such standard form shall be July 1 immediately following notice as provided for in this paragraph of the form's adoption; provided, however, that a new or revised form which is based upon a new or amended statute or a recent case may become effective upon the effective date of the statute or decision or as soon thereafter as practicable, after notice of adoption of the form as provided in this paragraph. Prior to such effective date, notice of adoption of the form shall be published in an issue of the Official Advance Sheets of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Each newly-adopted form will either be published in full in an issue of such Advance Sheets and subsequently in the bound volume, or be available in each probate court of this state, at least one month prior to its effective date.

(E) These rules shall be construed to allow and facilitate the use of technology in document preparation such as by means of word processing. No standard forms or these rules shall require the filing party to mark or identify any changes in such forms unless they are material. Changes in such forms which are grammatical, changes in gender, changes in singular to plural omission of optional or alternative language and the inclusion of variable information such as names and addresses shall not be deemed material: however, the format and sequence of the forms shall be preserved as far as practical.

(F) Each court will have a supply of printed copies of adopted standard forms. Each standard form will have a title and will contain numbered paragraphs. When an available standard form is not used for a probate court procedure, then the content of the substituted pleading or other document must conform to the standard form, indicating all material information added to or deleted from the standard form. Material addition, must be underlined placed in bold or all capital letters, or otherwise clearly indicated and material deletions must be shown with a single strike through or otherwise clearly indicated. At the end of any such document, the attorney must sign the following statement: "I certify that the content of the foregoing is identical in all material respects with Georgia probate court standard form entitled, ____________________________, except for additions or deletions indicated as required by the Uniform Probate Court Rules." For purposes of this paragraph, instructions shall not be deemed to be a part of any standard form.

(G) With respect to any procedure for which a standard form has been adopted, the court may, in its discretion, process or decline to process any document not on an available standard form and which does not contain the certificate described above.

(H) Any document prepared in accordance with this rule and any other applicable rules shall be acceptable in any probate court in this state.

(I) For the purposes of this rule, any change or modification of a standard form which changes only the format in which dates are set forth shall not be considered to be the adoption of a new form, and any existing standard form may be modified or amended solely for the purpose of changing the format in which dates are set forth without affecting the effective date or otherwise changing the standard form. In the event such changes are made to a standard form, newly printed or created forms may be distributed to and by probate courts in lieu of older forms without such changes; however, older versions of standard forms not containing such changes shall be acceptable for filing in all probate courts until existing supplies are depleted. Any change or modification of a standard form which changes only the format in which dates are set forth shall not be considered to be a substituted document such as to require the certificate required under subparagraph (F) of this rule.






Rule 22. Citations.


(A) Unless the court specifically assumes the responsibility, it is the responsibility of the moving party to prepare a proper citation.

(B) Every citation shall include a statement that all objections to the petition must be in writing, setting forth the grounds of any such objections, and must be filed with the court at or before the time stated in the citation.

(C) Unless the court specifically assumes the responsibility, it is the responsibility of the moving party to see that all citations which must be personally served are delivered to the proper sheriff's office or special agent for service of process.

(D) Unless the court specifically assumes the responsibility otherwise, in connection with any citation which must be served by mail, including without limitation a citation concerning an application for year's support, a properly stamped envelope, addressed to each interested party, must be provided to the court by the petitioner.

(E) Unless the court directs otherwise, the court will deliver all citations which are to be published in the county where the petition is filed to the legal newspaper of that county.

(F) If a citation is to be published only one time, then it shall be published at least ten (10) days in advance of the date established as the deadline for filing objections.

(G) With respect to citations which are to be published, the court may set a deadline prior to which proposed citations must be delivered to the court, so that they can be checked by the court and delivered to the appropriate newspaper.






Rule 23. Guardians ad litem and appraisers for year's support.


Guardians ad litem may be nominated by parties to the case, but it remains the responsibility of the court, in its discretion, to choose an appropriate party to serve as a guardian ad litem. A guardian at litem must either be disinterested or have an interest identical or similar to the person for whom he is appointed, but may not have an interest which could possibly conflict with the person for whom he is appointed.






Rule 24. Investigation of Fiduciaries.


24.1. Criminal Background Information of Certain Nominated Temporary Administrators, Personal Representatives or Guardians

Any person requesting appointment by a probate court in this State as temporary administrator or personal representative of an estate of a decedent or as guardian of the person or property of an incapacitated adult or a minor may be required to first submit to a criminal background check by allowing the probate court in which the petition seeking such appointment is pending to access the criminal records information maintained by the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) with reference to such person. The actual performance of a background check shall be in the discretion of the judge of the probate court before which the proceedings are pending, and there shall be no requirement that a criminal history be obtained for every such person. In order to allow access to the GCIC records, any person requesting such appointment shall, upon request by the probate court, sign a form consenting to the release of such information by GCIC to the probate court, which form shall be substantially the same as the consent form appended to the Georgia Probate Court Standard Form 31. All information received by a probate court pursuant to this Rule shall be considered confidential and shall be disclosed by the probate court or its staff only to the person seeking such appointment, any attorney representing such person, and any attorney and/or guardian-ad-litem representing the heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent, the alleged incapacitated adult or the minor involved in the proceedings. Any records so obtained by a probate court shall be destroyed within 30 days after the expiration of the time for filing of an appeal of the order of the probate court granting or denying such appointment; if an appeal is filed, such records shall be destroyed within 30 days after the appeal is dismissed or withdrawn or the remittitur is returned to the probate court.

Rule 27. Arraignment.

Rule 27.1. Calendar.

The judge or the judge's designee shall set the time of arraignment unless arraignment is waived either by the defendant or by operation of law. Notice of the date, time and place of arraignment shall be delivered to the clerk of the court and sent to attorneys of record, defendants and bondsmen.

Rule 27.2. Call for Arraignment.

Before arraignment the court shall inquire whether the accused is represented by an attorney and, if not, advise the accused of the right to indigent defense counsel and the procedures by which an attorney’s assistance may be obtained.

Upon the call of the case for arraignment the accused, or the attorney for the accused, shall answer whether the accused pleads guilty or not guilty or desires to enter a plea of nolo contendere to the offense or offenses charged; a plea of not guilty shall constitute a joining of the issue.




Rule 28. Motions, Demurrers, Special Pleas, Etc.

Rule 28.1. Time for Filing.

All motions, demurrers, and special pleas shall be made and filed at or before the time set by law, unless time therefor is extended by the judge in writing prior to trial. Notices of the state's intention to present evidence of similar transactions or occurrences and notices of the intention of the defense to raise the issue of insanity or mental illness shall be given and filed at least ten (10) days before trial unless the time is shortened or lengthened by the judge. Such filing shall be in accordance with the following procedures.

Rule 28.2. Time for Hearing.

All such motions, demurrers, special pleas and notices shall be heard and considered at such time, date, and place as set by the judge. Generally, such will be heard at or after the time of arraignment and prior to the time at which such case is scheduled for trial.

Rule 28.3. Notice of Prosecution's Intent to Present Evidence of Similar Transactions.

 (A) The prosecution may, upon notice filed in accordance with section 28.1 of these rules, request of the court in which the charging instrument is pending leave to present during the trial of the pending case evidence of similar transactions or occurrences.

(B) The notice shall be in writing, served upon the defendant's counsel, and shall state the transaction, date, county, and the name(s) of the victim(s) for each similar transaction or occurrence sought to be introduced. Copies of accusations or indictments, if any, and guilty pleas or verdicts, if any, shall be attached to the notice. The judge shall hold a hearing at such time as may be appropriate, and may receive evidence on any issue of fact necessary to determine the request. The burden of proving that the evidence of similar transactions or occurrences should be admitted shall be upon the prosecution. The state may present during the trial evidence of only those similar transactions or occurrences specifically approved by the judge.

 (C) Evidence of similar transactions or occurrences not approved shall be inadmissible.  In every case, the prosecuting attorney and defense attorney shall instruct their witnesses not to refer to similar crimes, transactions or occurrences, or otherwise place the defendant's character in issue, unless specifically authorized by the judge.

 (D) If upon the trial of the case the defense places the defendant's character in issue, evidence of similar transactions or occurrences, as shall be admissible according to the rules of evidence, shall be admissible, the above provisions notwithstanding.

 (E) Nothing in this rule is intended to prohibit the state from introducing evidence of similar transactions or occurrences which are lesser included alleged offenses of the charge being tried, or are immediately related in time and place to the charge being tried, as part of a single, continuous transaction.  Nothing in this rule is intended to alter the rules of evidence relating to impeachment of witnesses.

 (F) This rule shall not apply to sentencing hearings.

 

Rule 28.4. Notice of Intention of Defense to Raise Issue of Insanity, Mental Illness or Mental Competency.

Reserved.

 


Rule 29. Criminal Trial Calendar.

Rule 29.1. Calendar Preparation.

All cases shall be set for trial within a reasonable time after arraignment. The judge or the judge’s designee shall prepare a trial calendar, shall deliver a copy thereof to the clerk of court, and shall give notice in person or by mail to each counsel of record, the bondsman (if any) and the defendant at the last address indicated in court records, not less than 7 days before the trial date. The calendar shall list the dates that cases are set for trial, the cases to be tried at that session of court, the case numbers, the names of the defendants and the names of the defense counsel.

Rule 29.2. Rule 29.2. Removal From Calendar.

 No case shall be postponed or removed from the calendar except by the judge.


Rule 30. Pleading by Defendant.

Rule 30.1. Alternatives.

(A) A defendant may plead guilty, not guilty, or in the discretion of the judge, nolo contendere.  A plea of guilty or nolo contendere should be received only from the defendant personally in open court, except when the defendant is a corporation, in which case the plea may be entered by counselor a corporate officer.  In misdemeanor cases, upon the request of a defendant who has made, in writing, a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of his right to be present, the court may accept a plea of guilty in absentia.

(B) A defendant may plead nolo contendere only with the consent of the judge.  Such a plea should be accepted by the judge only after due consideration of the views of the parties and the interest of the public in the effective administration of justice.  Procedurally, a plea of nolo contendere should be handled under these rules in a manner similar to a plea of guilty.

Rule 30.2. Aid of Counsel--Time for Deliberation.

   (A) A defendant shall not be called upon to plead before having an opportunity to retain counsel, or if defendant is eligible for appointment of counsel, until counsel has been appointed or right to counsel waived.  A defendant with counsel shall not be required to enter a plea if counsel makes a reasonable request for additional time to represent the defendant's interest, or if the defendant has not had a reasonable time to consult with counsel.

   (B) A defendant without counsel should not be called upon to plead to any offense without having had a reasonable time to consider this decision.  When a defendant without counsel tenders a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to an offense, the court should not accept the plea unless it is reaffirmed by the defendant after a reasonable time for deliberation, following the advice from the court required in section 30.8.

Rule 30.3.Propriety of Plea Discussions and Plea Agreements.

   (A) In cases in which it appears that the interests of the public in the effective administration of criminal justice (as stated in section 30.6) would thereby be served, the prosecuting attorney may engage in plea discussions for the purpose of reaching a plea agreement.  The prosecuting attorney should engage in plea discussions or reach a plea agreement with the defendant only through defense counsel, except when the defendant is not eligible for or does not desire appointment of counsel and has not retained counsel.

(B) The prosecuting attorney, in reaching a plea agreement, may agree to one or more of the following, as dictated by the circumstances of the individual case:

(1) to make or not to oppose favorable recommendations as to the sentence which should be imposed if the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere;
(2) to seek or not to oppose dismissal of the offense charged if the defendant enters a    plea of guilty or nolo contendere to another offense reasonably related to defendant's conduct;  or,
(3) to seek or not to oppose dismissal of other charges or potential charges against the     defendant if the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.

Rule 30.4. Relationship Between Defense Counsel and Client.

    (A) Defense counsel should conclude a plea agreement only with the consent of the defendant, and should ensure that the decision to enter or not enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is ultimately made by the defendant.

    (B) To aid the defendant in reaching a decision, defense counsel, after appropriate investigation, should advise the defendant of the alternatives available and of considerations deemed important by him in reaching a decision.

Rule 30.5. Responsibilities of the Trial Judge.

   (A) The trial judge should not participate in plea discussions.

   (B) If a tentative plea agreement has been reached, upon request of the parties, the trial judge may permit the parties to disclose the tentative agreement and the reasons therefor in advance of the time for the tendering of the plea.  The judge may then indicate to the prosecuting attorney and defense counsel whether the judge will likely concur in the proposed disposition if the information developed in the plea hearing or presented in the pre-sentence report is consistent with the representations made by the parties.  If the trial judge concurs but the final disposition differs from that contemplated by the plea agreement, then the judge shall state for the record what information in the pre-sentence report or hearing contributed to the decision not to sentence in accordance with the plea agreement.

(C) When a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is tendered or received as a result of a plea agreement, the trial judge should give the agreement due consideration, but notwithstanding its existence, must reach an independent decision on whether to grant charge or sentence leniency under the principles set forth in section 30.6 of these rules.

Rule 30.6. Consideration of Plea in Final Disposition.

   (A) It is proper for the judge to grant charge and sentence leniency to defendants who enter pleas of guilty or nolo contendere when the interests of the public in the effective administration of criminal justice are thereby served.  Among the considerations which are appropriate in determining this question are:

(1) that the defendant by entering a plea has aided in ensuring the prompt and certain application of correctional measures;

(2) that the defendant has acknowledged guilt and shown a willingness to assume responsibility for conduct;

(3) that the leniency will make possible alternative correctional measures which are better adapted to achieving rehabilitative, protective, deterrent or other purposes of correctional treatment, or will prevent undue harm to the defendant from the form of conviction;

(4) that the defendant has made public trial unnecessary when there are good reasons for not having the case dealt with in a public trial;

(5) that the defendant has given or offered cooperation when such cooperation has resulted or may result in the successful prosecution of other offenders engaged in equally serious or more serious criminal conduct;

(6) that the defendant by entering a plea has aided in avoiding delay  (including delay due to crowded dockets) in the disposition of other cases and thereby has increased the probability of prompt and certain application of correctional measures to other offenders.

 (B) The judge should not impose upon a defendant any sentence in excess of that which would be justified by any of the rehabilitative, protective, deterrent or other purposes of the criminal law merely because the defendant has chosen to require the prosecution to prove the defendant's guilt at trial rather than to enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere.

 

Rule 30.7. Determining Voluntariness of Plea.

  The judge shall not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere without first determining, on the record, that the plea is voluntary.  By inquiry of the prosecuting attorney and defense counsel, the judge should determine whether the tendered plea is the result of prior plea discussions and a plea agreement, and, if it is, what agreement has been reached.  If the prosecuting attorney has agreed to seek charge or sentence leniency which must be approved by the judge, the judge must advise the defendant personally that the recommendations of the prosecuting attorney are not binding on the judge.  The judge should then address the defendant personally and determine whether any other promises or any force or threats were used to obtain the plea.

Rule 30.8. Defendant to Be Informed.

The judge should not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere from a defendant without first:

 (A) Determining on the record that the defendant understands the nature of the charge(s);

(B) Informing the defendant on the record that by entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere one waives:

(1) the right to trial by jury;
(2) the presumption of innocence;
(3) the right to confront witnesses against oneself;
(4) the right to subpoena witnesses;
(5) the right to testify and to offer other evidence;
(6) the right to assistance of counsel during trial;
(7) the right not to incriminate oneself; and that by pleading not guilty or remaining silent and not entering a plea, one obtains a jury trial; and

(C) Informing the defendant on the record:

(1) of the terms of any negotiated plea;
(2) that a plea of guilty may have an impact on his or her immigration status if the defendant is not a citizen of the United States;
(3) of the maximum possible sentence on the charge, including that possible from consecutive sentences and enhanced sentences where provided by law; and/or
(4) of the mandatory minimum sentence, if any, on the charge.  This information may be developed by questions from the judge, the district attorney or the defense attorney, or a combination of any of these.

Rule 30.9.Determining Accuracy of Plea.

   Notwithstanding the acceptance of a plea of guilty, judgment should not be entered upon such plea without such inquiry on the record as may satisfy the judge that there is a factual basis for the plea.

Rule 30.10.Stating Intention to Reject the Plea Agreement.

   If the trial court intends to reject the plea agreement, the trial court shall, on the record, inform the defendant personally that (1) the trial court is not bound by any plea agreement;  (2) the trial court intends to reject the plea agreement presently before it;  (3) the disposition of the present case may be less favorable to the defendant than that contemplated by the plea agreement;  and (4) that the defendant may then withdraw his or her guilty plea as a matter of right.  If the plea is not then withdrawn, sentence may be pronounced.

Rule 30.11. Record of Proceedings.

A verbatim record of the proceedings at which a defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere shall be made and preserved.  The record should include:

(A) the inquiry into the voluntariness of the plea (as required in section 30.7);
(B) the advice to the defendant (as required in section 30.8);
(C) the inquiry into the accuracy of the plea (as required in section 30.9), and, if applicable;
(D) the notice to the defendant that the trial court intends to reject the plea agreement and the defendant's right to withdraw the guilty plea before sentence is pronounced.

Rule 30.12. Plea Withdrawal.

  (A) After sentence is pronounced, the judge should allow the defendant to withdraw his plea of guilty or nolo contendere whenever the defendant, upon a timely motion for withdrawal, proves that withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.
  (B) In the absence of a showing that withdrawal is necessary to correct a manifest injustice, a defendant may not withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere as a matter of right once sentence has been pronounced by the judge.

 


Rule 31. Evidence

Rule 31.1.Maintenance of Non-criminal Evidence.

(a)        Prior to and during the trial or hearing: The Clerk of the Probate Court or the Court Reporter in possession of documents, electronic documents, audio and video recordings of whatever form, exhibits, and other material objects or any other items admitted as evidence in a civil case shall, if such items are separated from the original case file, maintain a log or inventory of all such items with the case number, party names, description of the item, the name and official position of the custodian, and the location of the storage of the items.  Dangerous or contraband items shall be placed in the custody of the Clerk of the Probate Court and be maintained in the courthouse or other such location as allowed by law and be available during court proceedings and accessible to the Court Reporter.  Unless retained in the original case file, all such items admitted as evidence shall be identified or tagged by the Clerk of Court or Court Reporter with the case number and the exhibit number and be recorded in the log or inventory.  Within 30 days after disposition of the case, the Court Reporter, if in possession of items admitted into evidence, shall transfer such items of evidence along with the evidence log or inventory to the Clerk of the originating Court.  The Clerk of the Probate Court shall update the log or inventory to show the current custodian and the location of the evidence. 

(b)        Once the trial is concluded: Dangerous or contraband items shall be transferred to the sheriff or other appropriate law enforcement agency along with a copy of the log or inventory.  The sheriff or other law enforcement agency shall acknowledge the transfer with a signed receipt and the receipt shall be retained with the log or inventory created and maintained by the Clerk of the Probate Court.  The Clerk of the Probate Court and the sheriff or other law enforcement agency shall each maintain a log or inventory of such items of evidence.  In all cases, the Court Reporter shall be granted the right of access to such items of evidence necessary to complete the transcript of the case.  In any case in which no Court Reporter was retained, the Clerk of the Probate Court shall keep and store the evidence or insure that it is maintained in an appropriate location.

Evidence in the possession of the Clerk of the Probate Court or Court Reporter shall be maintained in accordance with the law.  The designated custodian shall be responsible for the recording on the evidence log or inventory the name of the counsel or party, the date, and the purpose for the release of any such items of evidence. Subsequent to admission of any item into evidence by the Court, no substitution for the item admitted into evidence shall be made except by leave of the Court.  Any counsel or party seeking to make a substitution for admitted evidence after the close of evidence shall file a motion for an order authorizing such substitution.  Upon granting of an order for substitution, the order shall be entered into the log or inventory.

The log or inventory of any evidence separated from the original case file shall be maintained in the original case file. Upon the expiration of the time for the filing of an appeal during which no motion for new trial or appeal has been filed by any party, the Clerk of the Probate Court, Court Reporter, sheriff or other law enforcement agency may, and shall upon written request, return any item of admitted evidence to the counsel or party who tendered the same; provided, however, that no item which is contraband or illegal to possess in the state of Georgia shall be returned to any counsel or party, and all such items shall, upon the expiration of the time for the filing of an appeal during which no motion for new trial or appeal has been filed by any party, be delivered over to the sheriff of the county for appropriate disposition.  Upon the expiration of the time for the filing of an appeal during which no motion for new trial or appeal has been filed by any party, the Clerk of the Probate Court, Court Reporter, sheriff or other law enforcement agency may notify in writing the counsel or party who tendered any admitted in evidence in the possession of such Clerk, Court Reporter, sheriff or law enforcement agency, to retrieve such item(s) within thirty (30) days of the written notice, and, upon the failure of the counsel or party to retrieve same within such thirty (30) days, the Clerk, Court Reporter, sheriff or law enforcement agency may dispose of the item(s).

Rule 31.2.Maintenance of Criminal Evidence.

   The Clerk of the Probate Court or the Court Reporter, in possession of documents, electronic documents, audio and video recordings of whatever form, exhibits, and other material objects or any other items admitted as evidence in a criminal case shall, if such items are separated from the original case file, maintain a log or inventory of all such items with the case number, party names, description of the item, the name and official position of the custodian, and the location of the storage of the items.  Unless retained in the original case file, all such items admitted as evidence shall be identified or tagged by the Clerk of Court or Court Reporter with the case number and the exhibit number and be recorded in the log or inventory.  Within 30 days after disposition of the case, the Court Reporter, if in possession of items admitted into evidence, shall transfer such items of evidence along with the evidence log or inventory to the Clerk of the originating Court.  The Clerk of the Probate Court shall update the log or inventory to show the current custodian and the location of the evidence.  Dangerous or contraband items shall be transferred to the sheriff or other appropriate law enforcement agency along with a copy of the log or inventory.  The sheriff or other law enforcement agency shall acknowledge the transfer with a signed receipt and the receipt shall be retained with the log or inventory created and maintained by the Clerk of the Probate Court.  The Clerk of the Probate Court and the sheriff or other law enforcement agency shall each maintain a log or inventory of such items of evidence. 

In all cases, the Court Reporter shall be granted the right of access to such items of evidence necessary to complete the transcript of the case.  In any case in which no Court Reporter was retained, the Clerk of the Probate Court shall keep and store the evidence or insure that it is maintained in an appropriate location.

   Evidence in the possession of the Clerk of the Probate Court or Court Reporter, during court proceeding, shall be maintained in accordance with the provisions of O.C.G.A.§17-5-55 and other applicable law.  The designated custodian shall be responsible for recording on the evidence log or inventory the name of the counsel or party, the date, and the purpose for the release of any such items of evidence.  Subsequent to admission of any item into evidence by the Court, no substitution for the item admitted into evidence shall be made except by leave of the Court.  Any counsel or party seeking to make a substitution for admitted evidence after the close of evidence shall file a motion for an order authorizing such substitution.  Upon granting of an order for substitution, the order shall be entered into the log or inventory.

The log or inventory of any evidence separated from the original case file shall be maintained in the original case file. 

   Upon the expiration of the time for the filing of an appeal during which no motion for new trial or appeal has been filed by any party, the Clerk of the Probate Court, Court Reporter, sheriff or other law enforcement agency may, and shall upon written request, return any item of admitted evidence to the counsel or party who tendered the same; provided, however, that no item which is contraband or illegal to possess in the state of Georgia shall be returned to any counsel or party, and all such items shall, upon the expiration of the time for the filing of an appeal during which no motion for new trial or appeal has been filed by any party, be delivered over to the sheriff of the county for appropriate disposition.  Upon the expiration of the time for the filing of an appeal during which no motion for new trial or appeal has been filed by any party, the Clerk of the Probate Court, Court Reporter, sheriff or other law enforcement agency may notify in writing the counsel or party who tendered any admitted in evidence in the possession of such Clerk, Court Reporter, sheriff or law enforcement agency, to retrieve such item(s) within thirty (30) days of the written notice, and, upon the failure of the counsel or party to retrieve same within such thirty (30) days, the Clerk, Court Reporter, sheriff or law enforcement agency may dispose of the item(s).

Suggested Minimum Requirements for an Evidence Maintenance Log

 

EXH. #
DESCRIPTION RELINQUISHED BY

 

DATE/TIME OF TRANSFER
RECEIVING AGENCY RECEIVING AGENT PHYSICAL LOCATION TRANSFERRED TO
    Signature of Relinquishing Clerk     Signature of Relinquishing Clerk  
    Type or Print Name    

 

Type or Print Name
 

 


Appendix A


The following amendments apply to the Uniform Probate Rules with respect to counties with a population of more than 96,000 persons according to the U.S. Decennial Census of 1990 or any future such census in which the judge thereof has been admitted to the practice of law for at least 7 years. In the material below, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, "rule" means Uniform Probate Court Rule; "probate court" or "court" means a probate court of a county to which these amendments apply; "probate judge" or "judge" means the judge of the probate court of such a county.


Rule No. Amendments
1.1 Rule 1.1 (Repeal of Local Rules) is hereby amended to read as follows: "All local rules of the probate courts to which these amendments apply are hereby repealed."
1.2 Rule 1.2 (Authority to Enact Local Rules) is hereby amended by adding the following sentence at the end of the second paragraph: "However, any such local rules shall not be inconsistent with this Appendix A."
1.2 The fourth paragraph of Rule 1.2 is hereby amended by adding the following sentence at the end of such paragraph: "Likewise, any such probate court may, without specific Supreme Court approval, provide by local rule that any necessary jurors may be supplied by the superior court or state court serving that county."
3 Rule 3, the existing material shall be designated paragraph (A) and the following paragraph (B) shall be added: "(B) With respect to contested matters, any attorney appointed to act instead of a judge of the probate court pursuant to OCGA § 15-9-13(a), and any hearing officer appointed under any applicable law to hold a hearing in lieu of the judge of the probate court, shall have been admitted to the practice of law for at least 7 years. Such substitute need not be a resident of the same county as the judge of the probate court making such appointment."
Rule No. Amendments
5 Rule 5 (Discovery) is deleted and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
"Rule 5. Discovery
In order for a party to utilize the court's compulsory process to compel discovery, any desired discovery procedures must first be commenced promptly, pursued diligently and completed without unnecessary delay and within six months after the filing of the answer, objection, or other response. At any time, the court, in its discretion, may extend, reopen or shorten the time to utilize the court's compulsory process to compel discovery."

    Editor's notes.
  • This rule was amended effective March 21, 1991.
6.3 Rule 6.3 (Hearing) is hereby deleted and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
"Rule 6.3 Hearing
Unless otherwise ordered by the court, all motions, including those for summary judgment, shall be decided by the court without oral hearing, except motions for new trial and motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. However, oral argument on any motion for summary judgment shall be permitted upon written request if such request is made not later than 5 days after the time for response."
6.8 With respect to Rule 6, the following section shall be added:
"Rule 6.8 Motions for New Trial
  1. Time for Hearing
    In order to reduce delay between the conclusion of the trial and the filing of the notice of appeal, the trial court may hear motions for new trial immediately after filing and prior to the preparation of the transcript of proceedings. In any event, the motion for new trial shall be heard and decided as promptly as possible.
  2. Transcript Costs
    Except where leave to proceed in forma pauperis has been granted, an attorney who files a motion for new trial, or a notice of appeal which specifies that the transcript of evidence or hearing shall be included in the record, shall be personally responsible for compensating the court reporter for the cost of transcription. The filing of such motion or notice shall constitute a certificate by the attorney that the transcript has been ordered from the court reporter. The filing of such motion or notice prior to ordering the transcript from the reporter shall subject the attorney to disciplinary action by the court."
7.2 Rule 7.2 (Pre-Trial Order) is hereby deleted and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:
"Rule 7.2 Pre-Trial Order
At the pre-trial conference, or prior to that day as specified in the pre-trial calendar, counsel for each party shall have prepared and shall file with the court a proposed Pre-Trial Order in substantially the following form. The words 'plaintiff' and 'defendant' may be changed if other words are more appropriate."

THE PROBATE COURT OF ______________ COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA

(STYLE OF CASE)   ESTATE NO. ____________

PRE-TRIAL ORDER

The following constitutes a Pre-Trial Order entered in the above-styled case after conference with counsel for the parties:

1. The name, address and phone number of the attorneys who will conduct the trial are as follows:
Plaintiff _________________________________________________________________________________
Defendant _______________________________________________________________________________
Other __________________________________________________________________________________

2. The estimated time required for trial is ________________________________________________________

3. There are no motions or other matters pending for consideration by the court except as follows:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

4. The jury will be qualified as to relationship with the following:_______________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

5. (a) All discovery has been completed, unless otherwise noted, and the court will not consider any further motions to compel discovery except for good cause shown. The parties, however, shall be permitted to take depositions of any person(s) for the preservation of evidence for use at trial.

(b) Unless otherwise noted, the names of the parties as shown in the caption to this order are correct and complete and there is no question by any party as to the misjoinder or nonjoinder of any parties.

6. The following is the Plaintiff's brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:(USE SPACE AS NEEDED)
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

7. The following is the Defendant's brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:(USE SPACE AS NEEDED) _______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

8. The issues for determination by the court are as follows: ___________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

9. The following facts are stipulated: ___________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

10. The following is a list of all documentary and physical evidence that will be tendered at the trial by the Plaintiff or Defendant. Unless noted, the parties have stipulated as to the authenticity of the documents listed and the exhibits listed may be admitted without further proof of authenticity. All exhibits shall be marked by counsel prior to trial so as not to delay the trial.
a. By the Plaintiff:__________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
b. By the Defendant:________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

11. Special authorities relied upon by Plaintiff relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

12. Special authorities relied upon by Defendant relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

13. Requests and exceptions to charge

14. The testimony of the following persons may be introduced by depositions:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

Any objection to the depositions or questions or arguments in the depositions shall be called to the attention of the court prior to trial.

15. The following are lists of witnesses the
a. Plaintiff will have present at trial:_____________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
b. Plaintiff may have present at trial:____________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
c. Defendant will have present at trial:___________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
d. Defendant may have present at trial:__________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

Opposing counsel may rely on representation by the designated party that he will have a witness present unless notice to the contrary is given in sufficient time prior to trial to allow the other party to subpoena the witness or obtain his testimony by other means.

16. The form of all possible verdicts to be considered by the jury are as follows:
_______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

17. (a) The possibilities of settling the case are:____________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
(b) The parties do/do not want the case reported. If they do,_____________________will arrange for the reporter.
(c) The cost of take-down will be paid by:_______________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________
(d) Other matters:

Submitted by:
______________________________________
______________________________________

It is hereby ordered that the foregoing, including the attachments that the foregoing, including the attachments thereto, constitutes the PRE-TRIAL ORDER in the above case and supersedes the pleadings which may not be further amended except by order of the court to prevent manifest injustice.
This __________________ day of __________________, _______________.

______________________________________
Judge, Probate Court of
________________________________ County




Rule No. Amendments
9.2 Rule 9.2 (Continuances) shall be deleted and the following shall be substituted:
"Rule 9.2 Continuance after Scheduled for Trial
Continuances will not be granted merely by agreement of counsel. Actions will not be removed from a trial calendar after notice of such calendar has been duly given, except by court direction upon such terms as reasonably may be imposed, including the possible imposition of a penalty of up to $50 upon the moving party if, absent statutory grounds or good cause, a motion for continuance of an action is first made within 5 days of the trial week scheduled."
9.3 Rule 9.3 (Appeals - Probate Court Transcript Not Transmitted) shall be deleted and the following shall be substituted:
"Rule 9.3 Appeals – Record
The record which is transmitted to the appropriate appellate court on appeal shall be prepared in the same manner as appeals from the superior court are prepared, as nearly as practicable."
14 Rule 14 (Leaves of Absence) shall be amended by adding the following after subsection (C):
"(D) Whether any hearings or trials have been scheduled and, if so, the date of said hearing or trial."
19.3 Rule 19.3 (Recusal - Procedure upon a Motion for Disqualification) shall be amended by deleting the present material and substituting the following:
"Rule 19.3 Procedure upon a Motion for Disqualification
If the recusal motion is sustained, the probate judge shall be recused and a state court judge (other than the one who heard the motion) or an attorney shall be appointed by the judge who heard the recusal motion to sit in place of the recused judge, provided that such state court judge or attorney appointed to hear the case shall have been admitted to the practice of law for at least 7 years."
20.8 Rule 20.8 (Filing of Transcripts) is hereby amended by deleting the last sentence and substituting in lieu thereof the following sentence: "See also Rule 9.3 in this Appendix A concerning appeals."
24 Rule 24 is amended to read as follows:
"Rule 24 Jury Trials
  1. Right to Jury Trial. The right of a party to a jury trial must be asserted by a written demand within 30 days after the filing of the first pleading of the party or within 15 days after the filing of the first pleading of an opposing party, whichever is later, except that with respect to a petition pursuant to OCGA § 29-5-6, relating to guardianship of an incapacitated adult, if any interested party desires a trial by jury, such party must make such request for a jury within ten days after the date of mailing of the notice provided for by paragraph (1) of subsection (d) of OCGA § 29-5-6. If a party fails to assert the right to a jury trial, the right shall be deemed waived and may not thereafter be asserted.
  2. Voir Dire. The court may propound, or cause to be propounded by counsel, such questions of the jurors as provided in OCGA § 15-12-133; however, the form, time required and number of such questions is within the discretion of the court. The court may require that questions be asked once only to the full array of the jurors, rather than to every juror - one at a time - provided that the question be framed and the response given in a manner that will provide the propounder with an individual response prior to the interposition of challenge. Hypothetical questions are discouraged, but may be allowed in the discretion of the court. It is improper to examine a juror as to how he would act in certain contingencies or on a certain hypothetical state of facts. No question shall be framed so as to require a response from a juror which might amount to a prejudgment of the action. Questions calling for an opinion by a juror on matters of law are improper. The court will exclude questions which have been answered in substance previously by the same juror. It is discretionary with the court to permit examination of each juror without the presence of the remainder of the panel. Objections to the mode and conduct of voir dire must be raised promptly or they will be regarded as waived.
  3. Selection of Juries. After completion of the examination of jurors upon their voir dire, the parties and their counsel shall be entitled, upon request, to 15 minutes to prepare for jury selection; thereafter, during the selection of jurors, the judge in his discretion, upon first warning counsel, may restrict to not less than one minute the time within which each party may exercise a peremptory challenge; a party shall forfeit a challenge by failing to exercise it within the time allowed."
    Editor's notes.
  • This rule was amended effective July 1, 1990.
Rule No. Amendments
25 The following new Rule 25 is added:
"Rule 25 Settlement Agreements Altering Terms of Will
With respect to approval of settlement agreements pursuant to OCGA § 53-3-22, the probate courts to which these amendments apply shall have the same powers that superior courts have on appeals from other probate courts."
26 The following new rule Rule 26 is added:
"Rule 26 Court Reporters
Unless otherwise notified by the court, if any party desires that a hearing or trial be reported by a court reporter, then it shall be the duty of such party to arrange, at his own expense, for a court reporter to be present at the hearing or trial. Such party shall immediately notify the court and opposing counsel in writing when such arrangements have been made. No delay or continuance of any hearing or trial shall be granted in order to allow any party to make such arrangements, except for good cause shown. If the court will arrange for a court reporter to be present at a particular hearing or trial, then the court will so inform the parties in the notice of hearing, pre-trial order, or other appropriate notice."