Georgia Case Law

The Georgia state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in Georgia is the Georgia Supreme Court, which consists of nine judges. The Supreme Court reviews appeals of decisions by the Georgia Court of Appeals that have great public importance. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations, such as cases that raise constitutional questions. Decisions by the Georgia Supreme Court are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.

The middle level of the Georgia state court system is the Georgia Court of Appeals, which consists of five divisions that each contain three judges. The Court of Appeals holds jurisdiction over all appeals of decisions by lower courts, except in cases involving murder, habeas corpus, or constitutional questions. It may certify a legal question to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

The lowest level of the Georgia state court system consists primarily of the Georgia Superior Courts. The Superior Courts are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also review appeals of decisions by the Georgia Municipal Courts, the Georgia Magistrate Courts, the Georgia Probate Courts, and the Georgia County Recorder's Courts. The Municipal Courts review cases that involve violations of local ordinances and minor misdemeanors that occur within an incorporated municipality. The Magistrate Courts review cases such as violations of county ordinances, minor criminal offenses, and civil matters with no more than $15,000 at issue. The Probate Courts review cases that involve wills, guardianships, and other matters related to estates and incapacitated adults. The County Recorder's Courts are county-wide traffic courts.

Georgia also has certain other trial courts from which cases are not appealed to Superior Courts. These include the Georgia State Courts, the Georgia Juvenile Courts, and the Georgia Business Court. Each State Court holds limited jurisdiction in one county. These courts review misdemeanor cases, traffic violations, and civil matters that do not fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Superior Courts. They also may review appeals from Magistrate Courts. The Juvenile Courts review cases involving people under the age of 17, and sometimes under 18. The Business Court reviews business disputes related to contracts, securities, professional malpractice, business management, and similar issues.

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