Georgia Courts

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, the state's highest court, reviews decisions made by other courts in civil and criminal cases. This court alone rules on questions involving the constitutionality of state statutes, all criminal cases involving a sentence of death, and petitions from decisions of the Court of Appeals. No trials are held at the appellate level; oral arguments are heard by the entire court.

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Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals is the court of first review for many civil and criminal cases decided in the trial courts. The purpose of such a review is to correct legal errors or errors of law made at the trial level, not to alter jury verdicts or the outcome of bench trials.

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Superior Court

The Superior Court is Georgia’s general jurisdiction trial court. It has exclusive, constitutional authority over felony cases, divorce, equity and cases regarding title to land. The exclusive jurisdiction of this court also covers such matters as declaratory judgments, habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, and prohibition. The Superior Court corrects errors made by lower courts by issuing writs of certiorari; for some lower courts, the right to direct review by the Superior Court applies.

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State Courts

The State Court was established by a 1970 legislative act that designated certain existing countywide courts of limited jurisdiction as state courts. State courts may exercise jurisdiction over all misdemeanor violations, including traffic cases, and all civil actions, regardless of the amount claimed, unless the superior court has exclusive jurisdiction.

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Juvenile Courts

The purpose of our Juvenile Courts is to protect the well-being of children, provide guidance and control conducive to child welfare and the best interests of the state, and secure care for children removed from their homes.

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Magistrate Courts

Magistrate Court jurisdiction includes: civil claims of $15,000 or less; certain minor criminal offenses; distress warrants and dispossessory writs; county ordinance violations; deposit account fraud (bad checks); preliminary hearings; and summonses, arrest and search warrants. A chief magistrate, who may be assisted by one or more magistrates, presides over each of Georgia’s 159 magistrate courts.

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Probate Courts

County Probate Courts exercise exclusive, original jurisdiction in the probate of wills, administration of estates, appointment of guardians and involuntary hospitalization of incapacitated adults and other individuals.

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Municipal Courts

Courts of incorporated municipalities try municipal ordinance violations, issue criminal warrants, conduct preliminary hearings, and may have concurrent jurisdiction over shoplifting cases and cases involving possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

Judges appointed after July 1, 2011, are required to be attorneys.  Those in office prior to that date must meet certain training requirements.