2020 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 1 - General Provisions
§ 15-1-9.2. Senior Judge of Superior Courts

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-1-9.2 (2020)
  1. The office of senior judge of the superior courts is created, and judges of the superior courts or former judges of the superior courts may become senior judges as follows:
    1. Any judge of the superior courts who retires pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 8 or Chapter 23 of Title 47 and any such judge who receives a disability retirement benefit under such chapter may become a senior judge beginning on the effective date of the judge's retirement; and
    2. Any judge of the superior courts, whether or not said judge is a member of the retirement system created by Chapter 23 of Title 47, who ceases holding office as a judge of the superior courts and who has at least ten years of service as a judge of the superior courts at the time of ceasing to hold office and who is not eligible for appointment to the office of senior judge under any other law of this state may become a senior judge.
  2. The chief judge of any appellate or superior court of this state may make a written request for assistance to a senior judge. The request by the chief judge may be made if one of the following circumstances arise:
    1. A judge of the requesting court is disqualified for any cause from presiding in any matter pending before the court;
    2. A judge of the requesting court is unable to preside because of disability, illness, or absence; or
    3. A majority of the judges of the requesting court determines that the business of the court requires the temporary assistance of an additional judge or additional judges as provided for in Code Section 15-1-9.1.
  3. An active judge may call upon a senior judge to serve in an emergency or when the volume of cases or other unusual circumstances cause such service to be necessary in order to provide for the speedy and efficient disposition of the business of the circuit.
    1. Senior judges serving as judges of an appellate or superior court under this Code section or any other provision of law shall receive compensation from state funds for each day of service, in the amount of the annual state salary of a judge of the applicable court, divided by 235. In addition to such compensation, such senior judges shall receive their actual expenses or, at the judge's option, in the event of service outside the county of the judge's residence, the same per diem expense authorized by law for members of the General Assembly and shall receive mileage at the same rate as other state employees for such services. Such compensation, expenses, and mileage shall be paid from state funds appropriated or otherwise available for the operation of the appellate or superior courts, upon a certificate by the senior judge as to the number of days served or the expenses and mileage. Such compensation shall not affect, diminish, or otherwise impair the payment or receipt of any retirement or pension benefits, when applicable, of such judge.
    2. Senior judges serving as judges of any court other than an appellate or superior court under this Code section or any other provision of law shall receive compensation for each day of service, in the amount of the annual salary of a judge of the applicable court, divided by 235. In addition to such compensation, such senior judges shall receive their actual expenses or, at the judge's option, in the event of service outside the county of the judge's residence, the same per diem expense authorized by law for members of the General Assembly and shall receive mileage at the same rate as state employees for such services. Such compensation, expenses, and mileage shall be paid from funds appropriated or otherwise available for the operation of the applicable court, upon a certificate by the senior judge as to the number of days served or the expenses and mileage. Such compensation shall not affect, diminish, or otherwise impair the payment or receipt of any retirement or pension benefits, when applicable, of such judge.
  4. Notwithstanding the provisions of this Code section, a senior judge shall not be assigned, designated, or preside in any criminal case involving a capital offense for which the death penalty may be imposed once the state has filed a notice of its intention to seek the death penalty; provided, however, that a senior judge may be assigned, designated, or preside in such a case if the judge had previously been assigned or designated and presided over such case while serving as an elected superior court judge prior to attaining senior judge status.

(a.1)Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section, any Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Judge of the Court of Appeals, superior court judge, state court judge, magistrate court judge, or juvenile court judge who ceases holding office as a judge and who has a total of ten years of service in any combination of such offices or a total of nine years of service in any combination of such offices plus at least one year of service as chairperson of the State Board of Workers' Compensation may become a senior judge. Said combination must include at least five years' service as a Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of the superior court or at least five years as total served in combination as Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Court of Appeals, or judge of the superior court.

(a.2)Senior judge status as provided in this Code section shall be acquired by a qualified former judge's applying to the Governor for appointment as senior judge. The Governor shall appoint each qualified applicant as a senior judge.

(Code 1981, §15-1-9.2, enacted by Ga. L. 1989, p. 832, § 1; Ga. L. 1995, p. 916, § 1; Ga. L. 1998, p. 268, § 2; Ga. L. 1998, p. 513, § 3; Ga. L. 1998, p. 1666, § 1; Ga. L. 1999, p. 81, § 15; Ga. L. 2000, p. 421, § 2; Ga. L. 2001, p. 1102, § 1; Ga. L. 2008, p. 846, § 2/HB 1245.)

Code Commission notes.

- In 1998, Ga. L. 1998, p. 513, § 3 and Ga. L. 1998, p. 1666, § 1 both amended subsection (d). Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, subsection (d) is set out as amended by Ga. L. 1998, p. 1666, § 1.

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Constitutionality.

- Even though the position of senior judge is not an elected position, Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VI, Sec. I, Para. III, allows a senior judge to exercise judicial power in the superior courts when the assistance of a senior judge is necessary. O.C.G.A. §§ 15-1-9.2 and47-8-61 are simply the statutory enactments pursuant to the constitution. Smith v. Langford, 271 Ga. 221, 518 S.E.2d 884 (1999).

There is no merit to the argument that the authorization for the service of senior judges conflicts with Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VI, Sec. I, Para. I, vesting judicial power in designated courts, because creation of the position of senior judge does not establish a separate judicial forum. Smith v. Langford, 271 Ga. 221, 518 S.E.2d 884 (1999).

Waiver of challenge to senior judge.

- Defendant's claim that defendant's conviction was void because the senior judge who presided over the trial was not properly appointed pursuant to the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 15-1-9.2 had to be rejected as defendant's claim that the appointment was not properly made was waived by defendant's failure to raise the claim until defendant filed defendant's motion for a new trial. Hurst v. State, 260 Ga. App. 708, 580 S.E.2d 666 (2003).

Claim of insufficiency of judicial appointment untimely.

- Defendant's claim that defendant's convictions were void because the order appointing the senior judge who presided over defendant's trial was insufficient under O.C.G.A § 15-1-9.2(b) was not asserted until the motion for new trial and was therefore untimely. Strozier v. State, 277 Ga. 78, 586 S.E.2d 309 (2003).

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