2020 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 10 - Magistrate Courts
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 15-10-2. General Jurisdiction

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-10-2 (2020)

Each magistrate court and each magistrate thereof shall have jurisdiction and power over the following matters:

  1. The hearing of applications for and the issuance of arrest and search warrants;
  2. Issuance of warrants and related proceedings as provided in Article 4 of Chapter 6 of Title 17, relating to bonds for good behavior and bonds to keep the peace;
  3. The holding of courts of inquiry;
  4. The trial of charges of violations of county ordinances and penal ordinances of state authorities;
  5. The trial of civil claims including garnishment and attachment in which exclusive jurisdiction is not vested in the superior court and the amount demanded or the value of the property claimed does not exceed $15,000.00, provided that no prejudgment attachment may be granted;
  6. The issuance of summons, trial of issues, and issuance of writs and judgments in dispossessory proceedings and distress warrant proceedings as provided in Articles 3 and 4 of Chapter 7 of Title 44;
  7. The punishment of contempts by fine not exceeding $200.00 or by imprisonment not exceeding ten days or both;
  8. The administration of any oath which is not required by law to be administered by some other officer;
  9. The granting of bail in all cases where the granting of bail is not exclusively committed to some other court or officer;
  10. The issuing of subpoenas to compel attendance of witnesses in the magistrate court and subpoenas for the production of documentary evidence before the magistrate court;
  11. Such other matters as are committed to their jurisdiction by other general laws;
  12. The trial and sentencing of misdemeanor violations of Code Section 16-9-20, relating to criminal issuance of bad checks, as provided by Article 10 of this chapter;
  13. The execution or subscribing and the acceptance of written waivers of extradition in the same manner provided for in Code Section 17-13-46;
  14. The trial and sentencing of misdemeanor violations of other Code sections as provided by Article 13 of this chapter;
  15. The foreclosure of liens on animals as established in Title 4;
  16. The foreclosure of liens on abandoned mobile homes as established in Article 6 of Chapter 7 of Title 44; and
  17. The foreclosure of liens on abandoned motor vehicles as established in Article 1A of Chapter 11 of Title 40, "The Abandoned Motor Vehicle Act."

(Code 1981, §15-10-2, enacted by Ga. L. 1983, p. 884, § 2-1; Ga. L. 1985, p. 1003, § 1; Ga. L. 1986, p. 701, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 399, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 448, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 1032, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 320, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 338, § 1; Ga. L. 1999, p. 834, § 1; Ga. L. 2000, p. 1155, § 1; Ga. L. 2008, p. 324, § 15/SB 455; Ga. L. 2016, p. 178, § 8/SB 356; Ga. L. 2018, p. 666, § 2/HB 381; Ga. L. 2019, p. 872, § 1/HB 307.)

The 2018 amendment, effective May 1, 2019, deleted "and" at the end of paragraph (14), substituted "; and" for a period at the end of paragraph (15), and added paragraph (16).

The 2019 amendment, effective September 1, 2019, deleted "and" at the end of paragraph (15), added "; and" at the end of paragraph (16), and added paragraph (17). See Editor's note for effective date.

Cross references.

- Statewide applicability of magistrate court rules, Uniform Rules for the Magistrate Courts, Rule 1.3.

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2019, p. 872, § 8/HB 307, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "This Act shall become effective upon approval by the Governor or upon its becoming law without such approval for purposes of developing the required forms and shall become effective on September 1, 2019, for all other purposes." This Act was signed by the Governor on May 7, 2019.

Law reviews.

- For annual survey of trial practice and procedure, see 38 Mercer L. Rev. 383 (1986). For article, "The Civil Jurisdiction of State and Magistrate Courts," see 24 Ga. St. B. J. 29 (1987). For article, "Contempt of Court in Georgia," see 23 Ga. St. B. J. 66 (1987). For annual survey on real property law, see 70 Mercer L. Rev. 209 (2018). For note on 1999 amendment to this Code section, see 16 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 53 (1999).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

ANALYSIS

  • General Consideration
  • Powers and Duties Generally
  • Jurisdiction Generally
  • Criminal Jurisdiction
  • Personal Jurisdiction
  • Judgments Rendered Outside Jurisdiction
  • Division of Debts
  • Actions on Several Notes

General Consideration

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions rendered under pre-1983 provisions of this chapter pertaining to justices of the peace are included in the annotations for this Code section. See the Editor's notes at the beginning of this chapter regarding transfer of justices' functions to magistrates.

Dispossessory proceedings.

- Magistrate court had jurisdiction over dispossessory proceedings involving a property owner who, by remaining in possession of the premises after a lawful foreclosure of the property owner's deed to secure debt, became a tenant at sufferance and subject to summary dispossession by the purchaser at the foreclosure sale. California Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n v. Day, 193 Ga. App. 690, 388 S.E.2d 727 (1989).

Cited in Dodd & Co. v. Glover, 102 Ga. 82, 29 S.E. 158 (1897); Brooks v. Sturdivant, 177 Ga. 514, 170 S.E. 369 (1933); Crow v. State, 55 Ga. App. 288, 190 S.E. 65 (1937); McDonald v. Marshall, 185 Ga. 438, 195 S.E. 571 (1938); Thigpen v. McMichael, 76 Ga. App. 470, 46 S.E.2d 533 (1948); Goebel v. Hodges, 83 Ga. App. 574, 64 S.E.2d 207 (1951); Savannah News-Press, Inc. v. Harley, 100 Ga. App. 387, 111 S.E.2d 259 (1959); Thompson v. State, 142 Ga. App. 888, 237 S.E.2d 419 (1977); F.A. Reece Enters., Inc. v. Winnings, 191 Ga. App. 30, 380 S.E.2d 747 (1989); Penaranda v. Cato, 740 F. Supp. 1578 (S.D. Ga. 1990); Brinson v. First Am. Bank, 200 Ga. App. 552, 409 S.E.2d 50 (1991); Jr. Mills Constr. v. Trichinotis, 223 Ga. App. 19, 477 S.E.2d 141 (1996); Giles v. Vastakis, 262 Ga. App. 483, 585 S.E.2d 905 (2003); Sanders v. Trinity Universal Ins. Co., 285 Ga. App. 705, 647 S.E.2d 388 (2007); Setlock v. Setlock, 286 Ga. 384, 688 S.E.2d 346 (2010).

Powers and Duties Generally

1. In General

Judgments at illegal places.

- Judgments not rendered at place where court can lawfully be held are void. Bozeman v. Singer Mfg. Co., 70 Ga. 685 (1883) (decided under former law).

Judgment of the justice of the peace, void because rendered at some place other than the regular place of holding the court, may be attacked by affidavit of illegality in a proper case, but a writ of certiorari will not lie to such a judgment. Courson v. Land, 54 Ga. App. 534, 188 S.E. 360 (1936) (decided under former law).

Right to declare mistrial.

- It is an inherent right of all courts where jury trials obtain, including justice of the peace courts, to declare a mistrial when justice demands a mistrial. Decatur Chevrolet Co. v. White, 51 Ga. App. 362, 180 S.E. 377 (1935) (decided under former law).

Superior court may refuse to enforce fraudulent judgment.

- Although a justice of the peace has no authority to grant a new trial or to set aside a judgment, if the judgment was procured by fraud practiced by the plaintiff upon such officer and the opposite party, the superior court would be justified for this reason in refusing to grant mandamus on the petition of the plaintiff in such judgment to compel the justice of the peace to issue an execution thereon. Ward v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 181 Ga. 228, 181 S.E. 664 (1935) (decided under former law).

Dispossessory proceedings.

- Landlord's contention that the magistrate did not have the power to order the landlord to perform repairs to tenant's apartment in the landlord's dispossessory action was rejected as statutory law expressly gave the magistrate jurisdiction over dispossessory proceedings. H. J. Russell & Co. v. Manuel, 264 Ga. App. 273, 590 S.E.2d 250 (2003).

2. Contempt of Court

Refusal to surrender to arresting officer of one named in warrant issued by justice cannot be dealt with as contempt of court by a justice of the peace who has done nothing more than issue the warrant. Ormond v. Ball, 120 Ga. 916, 48 S.E. 383 (1904) (decided under former law).

3. Administration of Oaths and Taking of Affidavits

Proof that oath was not administered is admissible to rebut contrary statement in jurat attached to affidavit. Green v. Rhodes, 8 Ga. App. 301, 68 S.E. 1090 (1910) (decided under former law).

Affidavit attached to jurat furnishes no basis for issuing distress warrant. Britt v. Davis, 130 Ga. 74, 60 S.E. 180 (1908); Bryan v. Madison Supply Co., 135 Ga. 171, 68 S.E. 1106 (1910) (decided under former law).

When reading of oath by another person is in presence of the court, competency of person reading oath is immaterial. Richards v. State, 131 Ga. App. 362, 206 S.E.2d 93 (1974) (decided under former law).

If caption of affidavit sets forth name of another county court, affidavit presumed to be illegal. Hutchins v. State, 8 Ga. App. 301, 69 S.E. 309 (1910) (decided under former law).

4. Keeping Docket

Contents of docket entries.

- Entries on docket should contain every fact transpiring in case essential to validity of judgment. Scott v. Bedell, 108 Ga. 205, 33 S.E. 903 (1899) (decided under former law).

Unsigned docket entry not void.

- To determine whether there is a valid judgment in the justice's court, resort must be had to the docket entry and to that alone. When so entered it is not void because unsigned, nor is an unsigned verdict on which a judgment has been entered void. Sullivan v. Douglas Gibbons, Inc., 187 Ga. 764, 2 S.E.2d 89 (1939) (decided under former law).

Judgment may be entered on docket after adjournment.

- Rendering of a judgment by a justice of the peace, when the issue is tried before the justice without a jury, is a judicial act; when such judgment is rendered at the time and place required by law, the written judgment may be entered by the justice on the docket of the justice court at any time thereafter even though the justice's court has adjourned. Chandler v. Hammett, 73 Ga. App. 325, 36 S.E.2d 184 (1945) (decided under former law).

Docket determines validity of judgment.

- Only docket can be resorted to in order to determine if judgment valid. Gittens v. Whelchel, 12 Ga. App. 141, 76 S.E. 1051 (1913); Barnes v. Mechanics' Sav. Bank, 22 Ga. App. 214, 95 S.E. 757 (1918) (decided under former law).

Plea of res judicata can not be predicated upon a verdict upon which no judgment has been entered. Brown v. Bonds, 125 Ga. 833, 54 S.E. 933 (1906) (decided under former law).

Entry on docket necessary before execution can be issued. Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Brown, 3 Ga. App. 561, 60 S.E. 319 (1908) (decided under former law).

Entry on papers if case reopened after judgment entered on docket is nullity. Greene v. Oliphant & Hannah, 64 Ga. 565 (1880) (decided under former law).

When docket must show appearance.

- If a judgment has been rendered in a justice's court against a person who was not named in the summons, and the judgment is sought to bind that person on the ground that the person appeared and pleaded in the cause and thus made the person a party thereto, the fact of appearance and pleading must appear from a docket entry, and cannot be shown by parol evidence. Shearouse v. Wolf, 117 Ga. 426, 43 S.E. 718 (1903) (decided under former law).

Entry in judgment on promissory note must specify amount.

- If entry is made upon docket of justice of the peace court with design of setting forth terms of judgment in favor of plaintiff in action upon promissory note, and such entry in no manner specifies any amount, either as principal or interest, the judgment is void for uncertainty, and there is no valid judgment. McCandless v. Inland Acid Co., 112 Ga. 291, 37 S.E. 419 (1900) (decided under former law).

How entry of service construed.

- If a case was docketed by a justice of the peace and specifically named the defendant and a garnishee, a signed and dated statement that the summons had been served on the named garnishee was construed as an entry of service of summons of garnishment upon the garnishee. Southern Fertilizer & Chem. Co. v. Kirby, 52 Ga. App. 688, 184 S.E. 363 (1936) (decided under former law).

Jurisdiction Generally

1. In General

Civil claim jurisdiction.

- The 1987 amendment to O.C.G.A. § 15-10-2(5) is remedial in the amendment's operation and effect and applied to a judgment entered after its effective date in an action filed before such date. Russell v. Flynn, 191 Ga. App. 196, 381 S.E.2d 142 (1989).

Distinction between the criminal court and civil court of the justice of the peace. Ormond v. Ball, 120 Ga. 916, 48 S.E. 383 (1904) (decided under former law).

Dispossessory proceedings and distress warrant proceedings.

- Magistrate court's jurisdiction in dispossessory proceedings and distress warrant proceedings under O.C.G.A. § 15-10-2(6) is not circumscribed by the $5,000 limitation set forth in § 15-10-2(5). Atlanta J's, Inc. v. Houston Foods, Inc., 237 Ga. App. 415, 514 S.E.2d 216 (1999).

Justice of the peace may issue distress warrant for greater sum than the justice can entertain action for. Smith v. Turnley, 44 Ga. 243 (1871) (decided under former law).

Cannot try case beyond jurisdiction.

- Consent of parties for justice of the peace to try case beyond the justice's jurisdiction cannot confer on the justice jurisdiction to do so. Yon v. Baldwin, 76 Ga. 769 (1886) (decided under former law).

If debt has been reduced credit may be set up by amendment. Smith v. Puett, 124 Ga. 921, 53 S.E. 457 (1906) (decided under former law).

Jurisdiction in first action makes second action res judicata.

- Owners chose the forum for the owner's initial litigation and the magistrate court had jurisdiction to hear the questions presented, notwithstanding its limitation as to remedies; therefore, the owners' subsequent counterclaim involving the same party and issues was properly dismissed based on res judicata. Mahan v. Watkins, 256 Ga. App. 260, 568 S.E.2d 130 (2002).

2. Amount in Controversy

Amount is principal sum claimed.

- Amount in controversy which fixes the jurisdiction of justice of the peace court is principal sum claimed. Bowers v. Williams, 17 Ga. App. 779, 88 S.E. 703 (1916) (decided under former law).

Pleadings will generally control as to amount claimed. Browne v. Edwards, 122 Ga. 277, 50 S.E. 110 (1905) (decided under former law).

Favorable construction of all petitions will be adopted. Fine & Bro. v. Southern Express Co., 10 Ga. App. 161, 73 S.E. 35 (1911) (decided under former law).

If evidence warrants finding of damages below jurisdiction, that construction will be adopted. Georgia Ry. & Elec. Co. v. Knight, 122 Ga. 290, 50 S.E. 124 (1905) (decided under former law).

Amount that plaintiff finally recovers is immaterial. Ashworth v. Harper, 95 Ga. 660, 22 S.E. 670 (1895); Forbes Piano Co. v. Owens, 120 Ga. 449, 47 S.E. 938 (1904) (decided under former law).

Combination of small claims may oust court of jurisdiction. Yon v. Baldwin, 76 Ga. 769 (1886) (decided under former law).

Subsequent suit not barred when damages sought exceed jurisdictional limit.

- Although the magistrate court had jurisdiction over the lessor's dispossessory action, it did not have jurisdiction to render a binding judgment on the lessee's counterclaims, which sought money damages that exceeded the $15,000 jurisdictional limit of the magistrate court; because the magistrate court was not a court of competent jurisdiction to resolve those claims on the merits, the trial court correctly ruled that the doctrine of res judicata did not bar the lessee from reasserting the same claims in the current suit, and correctly denied the lessor's motion for summary judgment on that ground. WPD Ctr., LLC v. Watershed, Inc., 330 Ga. App. 289, 765 S.E.2d 531 (2014).

Effect of addition of interest.

- If sum sued for does not exceed jurisdictional amount, the court has jurisdiction even if addition of interest increases amount in controversy over jurisdictional amount. Southern Express Co. v. Hilton, 94 Ga. 450, 20 S.E. 126 (1894); Dumas v. Barnesville Bank, 38 Ga. App. 293, 143 S.E. 794 (1928) (decided under former law).

Total amount may oust court of jurisdiction.

- If, in action on note, principal, interest, and attorney's fees exceed jurisdictional amount, justice of the peace court has no jurisdiction. Searcy v. Tillman, 75 Ga. 504 (1885); Beach v. Atkinson, 87 Ga. 288, 13 S.E. 591 (1891); Almand v. Almand & George, 95 Ga. 204, 22 S.E. 213 (1894); Peeples v. Strickland, 101 Ga. 829, 29 S.E. 22 (1897) (decided under former law).

Attorney's fees are ascertained by adding principal and interest and calculating 10 percent. Morgan v. Kiser & Co., 105 Ga. 104, 31 S.E. 45 (1898); Hamilton v. Rogers, 126 Ga. 27, 54 S.E. 926 (1906) (decided under former law).

Attorney's fees are waived unless defendant is notified as required by Ga. L. 1900, p. 53, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 13-1-11). Godfree & Dellinger v. Brooks, 126 Ga. 627, 55 S.E. 938 (1906) (decided under former law).

If claim is liquidated, creditor cannot relinquish part of damages without consent of debtor. Stewart v. Thompson & Co., 85 Ga. 829, 11 S.E. 1030 (1890) (decided under former law).

Relinquishment principle is applicable to notes. Cox, Hill & Thompson v. Stanton, 58 Ga. 406 (1877) (decided under former law).

Relinquishment principle is applicable to open accounts. Ex parte Gale, 1 Ga. Rpt. Ann. (RMC 214) 193 (1822) (decided under former law).

Relinquishment principle has no application if damages not fixed by agreement or implied by law. Jennings v. Stripling, 127 Ga. 778, 56 S.E. 1026 (1907) (decided under former law).

Suit for damages to personalty. Velvin v. Hall, 78 Ga. 136 (1886) (decided under former law).

Breach of forthcoming bond. Bowden v. Taylor, 81 Ga. 199, 6 S.E. 277 (1887) (decided under former law).

Breach of contract to carry goods. Southern Express Co. v. Hilton, 94 Ga. 450, 20 S.E. 126 (1894) (decided under former law).

Account composed of unliquidated demands. Jennings v. Stripling, 127 Ga. 778, 56 S.E. 1026 (1907) (decided under former law).

Defense that account has been split into separate parts in order to bring amount of each part within jurisdiction of court must be pled. Smith v. Pope, 100 Ga. App. 369, 111 S.E.2d 155 (1959) (decided under former law).

Default judgment for one part waives defense for other part.

- If the debtor, knowing that an account has been divided to bring each part within the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court, withdraws the debtor's pleadings and suffers a default judgment, the debtor waives any defense to another part of the account so divided. Smith v. Pope, 100 Ga. App. 369, 111 S.E.2d 155 (1959) (decided under former law).

Claim for damages greater than $15,000.

- In an action between a same-sex couple regarding equity in a home, the girlfriend's claims against the homeowner were not barred by res judicata because the claims could not have been litigated in magistrate court in the homeowner's action for dispossession as the magistrate court lacked jurisdiction over the girlfriend's claims because the damages sought were more than $15,000. Smith v. Bell, 346 Ga. App. 152, 816 S.E.2d 698 (2018).

3. Specific Causes of Action

Justice of the peace court can hear action on express or implied bailment. Bates v. Bigby, 123 Ga. 727, 51 S.E. 717 (1905) (decided under former law).

Action on claim interposed to levy on personalty, under execution issued therefrom. Everett v. Brown, 117 Ga. 342, 43 S.E. 735 (1903) (decided under former law).

Action by guest against innkeeper for value of lost overcoat. Rockwell v. Proctor, 39 Ga. 105 (1869) (decided under former law).

Action on laborer's lien. Griffith v. Elder, 110 Ga. 453, 35 S.E. 641 (1900) (decided under former law).

Action on contract of carrier to deliver goods. Southern Express Co. v. Briggs, 1 Ga. App. 294, 57 S.E. 1066 (1907) (decided under former law).

Action for breach of warranty of personal property. Perdue v. Harwell, 80 Ga. 150, 4 S.E. 877 (1887) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action for breach of public duty. Smith & Simpson Lumber Co. v. Louisville & N.R.R., 4 Ga. App. 714, 62 S.E. 472 (1908) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action for failure to promptly furnish cars to move freight as against common carrier. Savannah F. & W. Ry. v. Snider, 1 Ga. App. 14, 57 S.E. 898 (1907) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action based on malicious prosecution. Williams v. Sulter, 76 Ga. 355 (1886) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action based on deceit. Cornett v. Ault, 124 Ga. 944, 53 S.E. 460 (1906) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action for fraudulent removal of property subject to lien. Dorsey v. Miller, 105 Ga. 88, 31 S.E. 736 (1898) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action for breaking of window. Chapman v. Silver & Bro., 18 Ga. App. 476, 89 S.E. 590 (1916) (decided under former law).

No jurisdiction in action for claim by steamboat company for detention of steamer at river bridge. White Star Line Steamboat Co. v. County of Gordon, 81 Ga. 47, 7 S.E. 231 (1888) (decided under former law).

Criminal Jurisdiction

Criminal jurisdiction limited to administration of justice.

- While justice courts have jurisdiction with respect to certain matters in the administration of criminal law, such courts did not have jurisdiction in criminal actions as the word was defined in former Code 1933, § 3-101 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-2-1). Pate v. Taylor Chem. Co., 88 Ga. App. 127, 76 S.E.2d 131 (1953) (decided under former law).

Extent of municipal court criminal jurisdiction.

- If local Act creating municipal court provides that the criminal jurisdiction of the court would not exceed the jurisdiction of the justice courts of this state, but would extend over the entire county, such municipal court is not thereby given jurisdiction of criminal actions, though it might have jurisdiction with respect to certain matters in connection with the administration of criminal law. Pate v. Taylor Chem. Co., 88 Ga. App. 127, 76 S.E.2d 131 (1953) (decided under former law).

Personal Jurisdiction

Prolonged visit will not confer jurisdiction on justice of the peace court. Fain v. Crawford, 91 Ga. 30, 16 S.E. 106 (1892) (decided under former law).

Service outside city limits proper.

- Service on a partner by a deputy marshal of a municipal court is valid though made outside the city limits, but within the county. Heyman v. Decatur St. Bank, 16 Ga. App. 14, 84 S.E. 483 (1915) (decided under former law).

Principal on bond may be sued in court that has jurisdiction of surety even though surety waived jurisdiction in consideration of release. Mumford v. Solomon, 8 Ga. App. 286, 68 S.E. 1075 (1910) (decided under former law).

Judgments Rendered Outside Jurisdiction

Application.

- This section applies when judgment is not rendered at place selected by justice in performance of the justice's statutory duty. Carter v. Atkinson, 12 Ga. App. 390, 77 S.E. 370 (1913) (decided under former law).

Judgment rendered outside jurisdiction may be attacked by affidavit of illegality. Mills v. Anderson, 20 Ga. App. 806, 93 S.E. 535 (1917) (decided under former law).

Writ of certiorari will not lie. Gravitt v. Mullins, 28 Ga. App. 806, 113 S.E. 61 (1922) (decided under former law).

Failure to notify as required voids judgment.

- Judgment void if rendered at a place where the statutorily required notice of change of location is not given. Hilson v. Kitchens, 107 Ga. 230, 33 S.E. 71, 73 Am. St. R. 119 (1899) (decided under former law).

An order rendered by the trial judge of the civil court of a county in a bail trover action at a place outside of that county, and without notice to a party against whose interest the judgment was rendered, was a mere nullity, void and of no effect, and could be ignored as such by any party purportedly adversely affected thereby. Zachos v. Rowland, 80 Ga. App. 31, 55 S.E.2d 166 (1949) (decided under former law).

Judgment rendered out of term. White v. Mandeville, 72 Ga. 705 (1884) (decided under former law).

Court cannot be held in nearby house where regular place not heated. McDonald v. Farmers Supply Co., 143 Ga. 552, 85 S.E. 861 (1915) (decided under former law).

Judgment should be signed in courthouse. Bowden v. Taylor, 81 Ga. 199, 6 S.E. 277 (1888) (decided under former law).

Division of Debts

Term "liquidated" is equivalent to settled, acknowledged, or agreed. Parris v. Hightower, 76 Ga. 631 (1886) (decided under former law).

No division of running open account.

- Running open account, the items of which have all matured at the time of the suit, cannot be divided into separate parts for the purpose of bringing each part within the jurisdiction of a justice's court without the consent of the defendant. Floyd v. Cox, 72 Ga. 147 (1883); Teat v. Westmoreland, 19 Ga. App. 60, 90 S.E. 1025 (1916) (decided under former law).

This rule has no application to legality or illegality of contracts so as to render prima facie illegal an entire running open account, composed of several contractual transactions during a period of years, merely for the reason that the evidence showed that certain older items of the account were illegal because the trade name of the plaintiff was not registered before the items were contracted, when the evidence also showed that the remaining items were legally contracted after due registration by the plaintiff. Gower v. Ozmer, 55 Ga. App. 81, 189 S.E. 540 (1936) (decided under former law).

Recovery on part of account will bar subsequent action for remainder. Johnson v. Klassett, 9 Ga. App. 733, 72 S.E. 174 (1911) (decided under former law).

Burden is on plaintiff to prove that accounts are different transactions. Parks v. Oskamp, Nolting & Co., 97 Ga. 802, 25 S.E. 369 (1895) (decided under former law).

Liens of other creditors cannot be prejudiced. Bell & Bro. v. Rich, 73 Ga. 240 (1884) (decided under former law).

Shares of stock represented by one certificate may be exchanged.

- If one holds a certificate representing five $50.00 shares of preferred stock one may exchange it for five certificates so that a justice of the peace court will have jurisdiction. Savannah Real Estate, Loan & Bldg. Co. v. Silverberg, 108 Ga. 281, 33 S.E. 908 (1899) (decided under former law).

Not necessary to unite claims for rent.

- If a landlord has two demands for rent, due for consecutive years, the amounts being liquidated, the landlord is not compelled to unite the demands in one distress warrant, although the landlord has the option to do so. McCray v. Samuel, 65 Ga. 739 (1880) (decided under former law).

Actions on Several Notes

Justice of the peace courts have jurisdiction of actions on distinct evidences of debt although they are given for one and the same debt or consideration. Parker v. Timberlake Grocery Co., 71 Ga. App. 280, 30 S.E.2d 650 (1944) (decided under former law).

If one is indebted to another on an open account in excess of $200.00 and gives two checks for a part thereof, which are credited on the account, an action against that person by the creditor for less than $200.00 to recover the full amount of the balance of the open account will lie, and is within the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court, even though another action has been filed to recover on the checks which have been dishonored. Parker v. Timberlake Grocery Co., 71 Ga. App. 280, 30 S.E.2d 650 (1944) (decided under former law).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

ANALYSIS

  • General Consideration
  • Powers and Duties Generally
  • Criminal Jurisdiction

General Consideration

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, opinions under former § 15-10-52, former Code 1933, §§ 24-602, 24-1001, and 24-1004 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Choice of forum.

- Courts of Georgia may not restrict the suitor's choice of forum when jurisdiction of a cause of action is vested in more than one court. 1983 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U83-50.

Arrest warrants for persons under 17 years.

- Magistrate may issue arrest warrants for persons under the age of 17. 1984 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U84-30.

Ordering prejudgment attachment or garnishment.

- Because magistrate courts are not "courts of record" magistrate courts may not order prejudgment attachment or garnishment. 1984 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U84-28.

Foreclosure of motor vehicle mechanic's lien.

- Justice of the peace court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to foreclose a motor vehicle mechanic's lien under O.C.G.A. § 40-3-54 since such lien is statutory rather than one arising ex contractu. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-27 (decided under former § 15-10-52).

Definitions of classes referred to.

- This section, in referring to persons "resident of their respective districts," covers those persons who are actually residing in the militia district. The provision relating to "itinerant persons" would cover persons falling in the category similar to traveling lightning rod salespeople, jewelry salespeople, and others who are only traveling through the district; the statute would not apply to a person who was actually a resident of an adjoining district because the jurisdiction of that person would be in the justice court of the adjoining district; the last part of this section, which applies to persons of other districts and particular cases, refers generally to suits against makers and endorsers, coendorsers, and others. 1952-53 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 311 (decided under former Code 1933, § 24-1004).

Justices of the peace court have jurisdiction in bail trover cases up to the amount of $200.00. 1945-47 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 77 (decided under former Code 1933, § 24-1001).

Counties required to furnish dockets and forms.

- Counties are not required to furnish justices of the peace everything the justices may need in the performance of the justices duties; however, counties are required to furnish justices and constables dockets and necessary forms used for process and service by them. 1957 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 33 (decided under former Code 1933, § 24-602).

No modification of judicial order specifying cash bond.

- Sheriff does not have the authority to modify a judicial order and accept a property or surety bond after a magistrate has specified a cash bond. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U87-22.

Dispossessory and distress warrant proceedings.

- Magistrate court has jurisdiction to try cases and issue writs and judgments in dispossessory and distress warrant proceedings when the amount in controversy exceeds $3,000.00. 1988 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U88-18.

Release of arrestees.

- Magistrate court may, sua sponte, order the release of arrestees who have been arrested without a warrant and if no warrant has been procured as required by O.C.G.A. § 17-4-62, and also if an individual has been arrested with a warrant, but has not been afforded a first appearance hearing within 72 hours of the individual's arrest as required by O.C.G.A. § 17-4-26. 1988 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U88-14.

Powers and Duties Generally

Commissioned notary public ex officio justice of the peace may only serve in that district in which the person resides. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 66-205 (decided under former law).

Jurisdiction over possession of open container of alcohol in vehicle.

- In counties in which there is a state court, both the state court and the magistrate court of the county possess concurrent jurisdiction over the prosecution of individuals charged with violating a county ordinance prohibiting the possession of open containers of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. 1992 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U92-3.

No jurisdiction outside district.

- Justice of the peace is required to hold court and to maintain an office within the district; the justice does not have jurisdiction of the person or of subject matter in any trial held outside such district. 1970 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U70-44 (decided under former law).

Justice of the peace may prevent interference with a constable in making a levy through contempt processes. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-63 (decided under former law).

Justice of the peace plays no part in actual collection of back taxes of either county or state. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-263 (decided under former law).

Justice of the peace has authority to administer oaths and take acknowledgments unless power is expressly restricted to some other officer. 1948-49 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 47 (decided under former law).

Justice of the peace may only administer such oaths in county in which the person is so authorized as justice of the peace. 1948-49 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 47 (decided under former law).

Authority of justice of the peace to serve as sheriff. 1963-65 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 6 (decided under former law).

No special requirement as to form of jurat.

- If the officer is a commissioned justice of the peace of the county and state wherein the oath is administered, the form under which the officer shows the officer's authority to execute the jurat, or whether or not the jurat is attached, is of little consequence and without special requirement as to form. 1948-49 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 47 (decided under former law).

Criminal Jurisdiction

Conservator of the peace is officer authorized to preserve and maintain public peace and comes within definition of peace officer. 1948-49 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 473 (decided under former law).

Duty of arrest should be delegated.

- Although a justice of the peace in the exercise of the justice's duties as conservator of the peace may carry the necessary implements for self protection in the discharge of the justice's duties, the duties of arresting persons for violation of laws should be delegated to the constable of the district and the justice should confine activities to the issuing of warrants and such processes as the justice deems necessary to preserve the peace since the offender when arrested may be brought before the justice for a committal hearing; the justice should not be the arresting officer and the magistrate, passing judgment upon the offender arrested by the justice. 1948-49 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 473 (decided under former law).

Justice of the peace may issue warrant for traffic offenses if warrant has not otherwise been issued by judge of the probate court. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 65-57 (decided under former law).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

ALR.

- Small claims: jurisdictional limits as binding on appellate court, 67 A.L.R.4th 1117.

7C Am. Jur. Pleading and Practice Forms, Courts, § 1 et seq.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Georgia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.