2020 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 6 - Superior Courts
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 15-6-8. Jurisdiction and Powers of Superior Courts

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-6-8 (2020)

The superior courts have authority:

  1. To exercise original, exclusive, or concurrent jurisdiction, as the case may be, of all causes, both civil and criminal, granted to them by the Constitution and laws;
  2. To exercise the powers of a court of equity;
  3. To exercise appellate jurisdiction from judgments of the probate or magistrate courts as provided by law;
  4. To exercise a general supervision over all inferior tribunals and to review and correct, in the manner prescribed by law, the judgments of:
    1. Magistrates;
    2. Municipal courts or councils;
    3. Any inferior judicature;
    4. Any person exercising judicial powers; and
    5. Judges of the probate courts, except in cases touching the probate of wills and the granting of letters of administration, in which a jury must be impaneled;
  5. To punish contempt by fines not exceeding $1,000.00, by imprisonment not exceeding 20 days, or both; and
  6. To exercise such other powers, not contrary to the Constitution, as are or may be given to such courts by law.

(Laws 1799, Cobb's 1851 Digest, p. 1135; Code 1863, § 242; Code 1868, § 236; Code 1873, § 246; Code 1882, § 246; Civil Code 1895, § 4320; Penal Code 1895, § 791; Civil Code 1910, § 4849; Penal Code 1910, § 791; Code 1933, § 24-2615; Ga. L. 1982, p. 974, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1983, p. 884, § 3-10; Ga. L. 1987, p. 3, § 15; Ga. L. 2013, p. 561, § 1/SB 66.)

Cross references.

- Judicial dissolution of corporations, § 14-2-1430 et seq., § 14-3-1430 et seq.

Exercise of contempt power generally, § 15-1-4.

Requirement of availability of one judge in each circuit on primary or election days, § 21-2-412.

Jurisdiction of superior courts to hear cases pertaining to primary or election contests, § 21-2-523.

Proceedings before superior courts regarding exercise of power of eminent domain generally, § 22-2-130 et seq.

Jurisdiction of superior courts over questions regarding determination of legal heirs and their interests, § 53-4-30.

Law reviews.

- For article, "Jury Trials in Contempt Cases," see 20 Ga. B. J. 297 (1957). For survey article on legal ethics, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 197 (1982). For article, "Contempt of Court in Georgia," see 23 Ga. St. B. J. 66 (1987). For annual survey of legal ethics decisions, see 58 Mercer L. Rev. 239 (2006). For article, "How Not to Get Thrown in Jail," see 22 Ga. Bar. J. 17 (June 2017).



  • General Consideration
  • Contempt
General Consideration

Power of superior court is limited by this section. General Teamsters Local 528 v. Allied Foods, Inc., 228 Ga. 479, 186 S.E.2d 527 (1971), cert. denied, 405 U.S. 1041, 92 S. Ct. 1313, 31 L. Ed. 2d 582 (1972).

Power to issue injunctions.

- Superior courts are empowered to issue injunctions, Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VI, Sec. I, Para. IV; O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8, and nothing in O.C.G.A. § 48-4-40(1) deprives the courts of that power in the arena of redemption of property following a tax sale. Am. Lien Fund, LLC v. Dixon, 286 Ga. 562, 690 S.E.2d 415 (2010).

Trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over a landowner's action seeking an interlocutory injunction requiring neighbors to move the neighbor's dock because the neighbors did not point to any federal law that would preempt the trial court as an appropriate forum for adjudicating the rights and remedies of the parties; there was no Congressional intent to preclude state action concurrently with the statutory and regulatory scheme establishing the authority of the Army Corps of Engineers over docks on the lake where the parties lived. Dillon v. Reid, 312 Ga. App. 34, 717 S.E.2d 542 (2011).

Jurisdiction of the superior courts is clearly defined by the Georgia Constitution and former Code 1873, § 246 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8). Trial of misdemeanor cases may be conferred upon inferior courts. Porter v. State, 53 Ga. 236 (1874).

Judicial powers historically vested in superior courts.

- Superior courts have forever in history been the great reservoir of judicial power in which the judicial powers of the state were vested, and however other courts might be erected as a relief to it, to take cognizance of minor matters, the practice has been uniform to retain in this tribunal concurrent, and generally, even supervisory power over them. Smith v. State, 62 Ga. App. 733, 9 S.E.2d 714 (1940).

Limitation on supervisory control of superior courts.

- Supervisory control of the superior court over inferior judicatories exists only for specified purposes, viz., either to correct errors in their proceedings in a particular case, or to command them to fulfill their official duties in such a case when, from any cause, a defect of legal justice would ensue from a failure or improper discharge of such duties; or to prohibit or arrest illegal proceedings by any officer of such courts when no other legal remedy or relief is given, and when such interference is required by some principle of right, necessity, and justice. This jurisdiction is exercised by writs designated by the statutes, such as the writ of certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition. Darden v. Ravan, 232 Ga. 756, 208 S.E.2d 846 (1974), overruled on other grounds Ricks v. State, 303 Ga. 567, 814 S.E.2d 318, 2018 Ga. LEXIS 288 (2018).

Jurisdiction over habeas corpus cases by all courts.

- All superior courts have jurisdiction over subject matter of habeas corpus cases or cases in nature of habeas corpus. Hopkins v. Hopkins, 237 Ga. 845, 229 S.E.2d 751 (1976).

Jurisdiction over felony trials.

- O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8 vests superior courts with exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over all felony trials. Goodrum v. State, 259 Ga. App. 704, 578 S.E.2d 484 (2003).

State did not have the right to appeal sentences imposed by the trial court contrary to a plea agreement under O.C.G.A. § 5-7-1(a)(6) because the sentences were not void; the sentences were within the 20-year range of punishments for robbery and aggravated assault, O.C.G.A. §§ 16-5-21(b) and16-8-40(b), and the trial court had jurisdiction over the case, pursuant to Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VI, Sec. IV, Para. I, and O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(1). State v. Harper, 279 Ga. App. 620, 631 S.E.2d 820 (2006) was overruled. State v. King, 325 Ga. App. 445, 750 S.E.2d 756 (2013).

Subject matter jurisdiction over employment cases.

- Superior courts have subject matter jurisdiction over timely Title VII claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 filed pursuant to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notification to the claimant that, the federal prerequisites for suit having been fulfilled, suit may be filed. Collins v. DOT, 208 Ga. App. 53, 429 S.E.2d 707 (1993).

Subject matter jurisdiction of breach of contract and fraud action.

- Superior court had jurisdiction of an action for breach of contract and fraud involving an agreement between an employer and employee, even though the agreement provided that the parties "submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts." Bradley v. British Fitting Group, Plc, 221 Ga. App. 621, 472 S.E.2d 146 (1996).

Subject matter jurisdiction over probate matter.

- Trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to review the probate court's decision under Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VI, Sec. IV, Para. I and O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(4)(E) to deny probate of the decedent's 1988 will and the parties' waiver of the statutory right to a jury trial did not deprive the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction to deny probate of the will. Mosley v. Lancaster, 296 Ga. 862, 770 S.E.2d 873 (2015).

Superior courts have concurrent jurisdiction with all inferior courts over misdemeanors. Smith v. State, 62 Ga. App. 733, 9 S.E.2d 714 (1940); Allen v. State, 85 Ga. App. 887, 70 S.E.2d 543 (1952); Lee v. State, 222 Ga. App. 389, 474 S.E.2d 281 (1996).

Extent of concurrent jurisdiction with magistrate courts.

- Superior court is a court of general jurisdiction, and has concurrent jurisdiction with the justices' (now magistrate) courts in all civil cases if the amount involved is less than $100.00 (now $2,500.00). Phillips v. Rawls, 46 Ga. App. 200, 167 S.E. 189 (1932) (See now O.C.G.A. § 15-10-2 for jurisdiction of magistrate courts.)

Court first acquiring jurisdiction of prosecution retains jurisdiction.

- While this section granted superior courts the power to exercise concurrent jurisdiction with inferior tribunals, the court first acquiring jurisdiction of the prosecution retained the jurisdiction to the exclusion of the others, so long as the court did not voluntarily and legally abandon the jurisdiction. McAuliffe v. Outz, 139 Ga. App. 62, 227 S.E.2d 807 (1976).

Superior court to review decisions only when presented under proper writ.

- This section empowered the superior courts only to review the proceedings of inferior courts when the question was presented under the proper statutory writ, and if the court finds the proceedings to be irregular or invalid, to remand to the tribunal having jurisdiction of the case for reconsideration in accordance with the court's instructions. McAuliffe v. Outz, 139 Ga. App. 62, 227 S.E.2d 807 (1976).

Removing record from inferior court.

- Entire record cannot be removed from inferior court to superior court by notice to officers to produce the record, or by a subpoena duces tecum directed to and served upon the court. In re Lester, 77 Ga. 143 (1886).

Authority to order expert evaluation of criminal defendant.

- Superior court of the county in which defendant was convicted of murder had authority, on defendant's motion for new trial, to order an expert evaluation of defendant, who was incarcerated beyond the boundaries of the county in which the court sat. Zant v. Brantley, 261 Ga. 817, 411 S.E.2d 869 (1992).

Defendant in city court may apply to superior court.

- If a suit for damages arising ex contractu is pending in a city court, the defendant, in order to avail oneself of an equitable setoff, may apply to the superior court to enjoin the proceeding in the city court and take jurisdiction of the entire controversy. Bibb Basket Co. v. Eufaula Bank & Trust Co., 42 Ga. App. 394, 156 S.E. 310 (1930).

Review of recorder's court decision lies in the superior court by writ of certiorari. McMillian v. City of Rockmart, 653 F.2d 907 (5th Cir. 1981).

Power of judge to appoint foreperson of grand jury.

- In the absence of a statute to the contrary, the judge of the superior court has inherent power as the presiding officer of the court to appoint the foreperson of a grand jury from the number of those duly selected and required to serve. This authority vested in the judge by law is not affected by the custom of permitting the members of the grand jury to elect a foreperson. Peeples v. State, 178 Ga. 675, 173 S.E. 850 (1934).

Local Act providing for bill of exceptions (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 5-6-49 and5-6-50) from city court to superior court is unconstitutional. Pope v. Jones, 79 Ga. 487, 4 S.E. 860 (1887), overruled on other grounds Ricks v. State, 303 Ga. 567, 814 S.E.2d 318 (2018).

Regulation of prices by court of products made and sold in this state not permitted. Southern Ice & Coal Co. v. Atlantic Ice & Coal Corp., 143 Ga. 810, 85 S.E. 1021 (1915).

Breach of payment bond contract.

- Subcontractor's action against surety for breach of payment bond contract, bad faith, and attorney fees was within superior court's subject matter jurisdiction. Harry S. Peterson Co. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co., 209 Ga. App. 585, 434 S.E.2d 778 (1993).

Subject matter jurisdiction over business dispute.

- In an action brought by a partner against another, the court did not err by vacating a consent order that incorporated a settlement agreement as the trial judge to whom the case had been reassigned had subject matter jurisdiction to vacate the previously entered order since the trial judge had subject matter jurisdiction over a cause of action pending before the court and control over orders and judgments during the term or following the term if the case is still pending. Further, since no final order had been entered in the matter and the case remained pending, the trial court had authority to reconsider the ruling made on the consent order, vacate the order, and order that the matter proceed to trial, irrespective of whether the case has been reassigned to a different trial judge. Internal Med. Alliance, LLC v. Budell, 290 Ga. App. 231, 659 S.E.2d 668 (2008).

Protection of judgments.

- Trial court was empowered to protect a judgment the court entered by enjoining an arbitration proceeding on the grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel. Mitcham v. Blalock, 268 Ga. 644, 491 S.E.2d 782 (1997).

Review by writ of certiorari precluded.

- Defendant's petition for writ of certiorari was fatally and fundamentally flawed since the petition did not recite the provisions of the county statute under which the defendant was convicted, which prohibited loitering for drug-related purposes; thus, the appellate court had no context within which to review the evidence. Collier v. Merck, 261 Ga. App. 831, 584 S.E.2d 1 (2003).

Appellate jurisdiction lacking.

- Since the superior court did not have appellate jurisdiction over rulings of a state court, there was no error in the state court's failure to process an appeal to the superior court within 10 days. Columbus Transmission Co. v. Murry, 277 Ga. App. 243, 626 S.E.2d 202 (2006).

Cited in Pullen v. Cleckler, 162 Ga. 111, 132 S.E. 761 (1926); Jones v. State, 39 Ga. App. 1, 145 S.E. 914 (1928); Brooks v. Sturdivant, 177 Ga. 514, 170 S.E. 369 (1933); Department of Indus. Relations v. Travelers' Ins. Co., 177 Ga. 669, 170 S.E. 883 (1933); Gavant v. Berger, 182 Ga. 277, 185 S.E. 506 (1936); Robitzsch v. State, 189 Ga. 637, 7 S.E.2d 387 (1940); Womack v. Celanese Corp. of Am., 205 Ga. 514, 54 S.E.2d 235 (1949); Alred v. Celanese Corp. of Am., 205 Ga. 371, 54 S.E.2d 240 (1949); Aiken v. Richardson, 210 Ga. 728, 82 S.E.2d 646 (1954); Fletcher v. Daniels, 211 Ga. 403, 86 S.E.2d 232 (1955); Rockefeller v. First Nat'l Bank, 213 Ga. 493, 100 S.E.2d 279 (1957); Hunt v. McCollum, 214 Ga. 809, 108 S.E.2d 275 (1959); Clarke County Sch. Dist. v. Madden, 99 Ga. App. 670, 110 S.E.2d 47 (1959); Cadle v. State, 101 Ga. App. 175, 113 S.E.2d 180 (1960); Holcomb v. Johnston, 216 Ga. 765, 119 S.E.2d 355 (1961); Henderson v. State Bd. of Exmrs., 221 Ga. 536, 145 S.E.2d 559 (1965); Stevenson v. Stevenson, 222 Ga. 47, 148 S.E.2d 388 (1966); Burson v. Bishop, 117 Ga. App. 602, 161 S.E.2d 518 (1968); Smith v. Robinson, 122 Ga. App. 693, 178 S.E.2d 697 (1970); Durham v. Spence, 228 Ga. 525, 186 S.E.2d 723 (1972); Bowen v. Bowen, 230 Ga. 670, 198 S.E.2d 862 (1973); Moody v. State, 131 Ga. App. 355, 206 S.E.2d 79 (1974); Wall v. Coleman, 393 F. Supp. 826 (S.D. Ga. 1975); McAuliffe v. Outz, 139 Ga. App. 62, 227 S.E.2d 807 (1976); Moody v. Mendenhall, 238 Ga. 689, 234 S.E.2d 905 (1977); Schuehler v. Pait, 239 Ga. 520, 238 S.E.2d 65 (1977); Wall v. T.J.B. Servs., Inc., 147 Ga. App. 364, 248 S.E.2d 685 (1978); Spruell v. State, 148 Ga. App. 99, 250 S.E.2d 807 (1978); Mitchell v. Excelsior Sales & Imports, Inc., 243 Ga. 813, 256 S.E.2d 785 (1979); Hopkins v. Hopkins, 244 Ga. 70, 257 S.E.2d 902 (1979); Goldgar v. Galbraith, 155 Ga. App. 429, 270 S.E.2d 833 (1980); Price v. Gibson, 246 Ga. 815, 272 S.E.2d 716 (1980); Mann v. State, 160 Ga. App. 527, 287 S.E.2d 325 (1981); Dunaway v. Clark, 536 F. Supp. 664 (S.D. Ga. 1982); Kariuki v. DeKalb County, 253 Ga. 713, 324 S.E.2d 450 (1985); General Accident Ins. Co. v. Wells, 179 Ga. App. 440, 346 S.E.2d 886 (1986); Smith v. Orkin Exterminating Co., 258 Ga. 705, 373 S.E.2d 740 (1988); Rowe v. Rowe, 195 Ga. App. 493, 393 S.E.2d 750 (1990); Hall v. State, 200 Ga. App. 585, 409 S.E.2d 221 (1991); Duffet v. E & W Properties, Inc., 208 Ga. App. 484, 430 S.E.2d 858 (1993); In re Mauldin, 242 Ga. App. 350, 529 S.E.2d 653 (2000); Harvey v. Lindsey, 251 Ga. App. 387, 554 S.E.2d 523 (2001); Johnson v. State, 258 Ga. App. 33, 572 S.E.2d 669 (2002); Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d 1304 (11th Cir. 2003); Southeast Serv. Corp. v. Savannah Teachers Props., 263 Ga. App. 513, 588 S.E.2d 310 (2003); In the Interest of P.W., 289 Ga. App. 323, 657 S.E.2d 270 (2008); Durham v. Durham, 291 Ga. 231, 728 S.E.2d 627 (2012).


Applicability to separate contemptuous acts.

- O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8 is applicable to each separate act found by trial judge to be contemptuous. In re Pruitt, 249 Ga. 190, 288 S.E.2d 208 (1982).

Breach of restraining order.

- This section applies when breach of temporary restraining order treated as single act, and costs may be awarded. Warner v. Martin, 124 Ga. 387, 52 S.E. 446, 4 Ann. Cas. 180 (1905).

Inapplicability to continuing contempt.

- This section did not apply to a refusal to deliver funds or property to receiver appointed by court pending litigation. Cobb v. Black, 34 Ga. 162 (1865).

This section does not apply if the doing of an act is necessary to the administration of justice, and breach is treated as continuing. Howard v. Durand, 36 Ga. 346, 91 Am. Dec. 767 (1867); Drakeford v. Adams, 98 Ga. 722, 25 S.E. 833 (1896).

This section does not apply to a continuing contempt resulting from failure to comply with order requiring payment of alimony. Tindall v. Westcott, 113 Ga. 1114, 39 S.E. 450, 55 L.R.A. 225 (1901); Gray v. Gray, 127 Ga. 345, 56 S.E. 438 (1907).

Failure or refusal to comply with an order of court requiring the payment of alimony and attorney's fees was a continuing contempt, and the court may enter a judgment that the party so refusing be imprisoned until the party shall comply. In such case, the time of imprisonment was not within the limitation of this section that the duration of imprisonment must not exceed 20 days. Adkins v. Adkins, 242 Ga. 248, 248 S.E.2d 646 (1978).

Mother held in criminal contempt.

- Order holding a mother in criminal contempt was upheld on appeal as a result of the mother's interference with the father's visitation time and since the trial court did not exceed the limit of 20 days of imprisonment as set forth in O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(5), the punishment imposed did not exceed that which was authorized. Stanford v. Pogue, 340 Ga. App. 86, 796 S.E.2d 313 (2017).

Failure to pay ordered child support.

- Parent who willfully refuses to pay child support which the parent is able to pay and which is required by an order of court may be found guilty of either civil or criminal contempt of court, or both. Ensley v. Ensley, 239 Ga. 860, 238 S.E.2d 920 (1977).

Party who has failed to pay child support under a court order when the party has the ability to pay may be found guilty of civil or criminal contempt and incarcerated under either. Hughes v. Georgia Dep't of Human Resources, 269 Ga. 587, 502 S.E.2d 233 (1998).

Lack of money and property impacting contempt.

- Trial court erred in continuing the incarceration of a party for civil contempt since the party lacked the ability to purge oneself because the party lacked money and property. Hughes v. Georgia Dep't of Human Resources, 269 Ga. 587, 502 S.E.2d 233 (1998).

Continuous contempt.

- Confinement may be extended indefinitely if the contempt is continuous. In re Pruitt, 249 Ga. 190, 288 S.E.2d 208 (1982).

Incarceration for over 20 days.

- If the trial court ordered a party incarcerated for more than 20 days, the contempt order should have contained sufficient facts to support the court's finding of more than one contemptuous act. Gay v. Gay, 268 Ga. 106, 485 S.E.2d 187 (1997).

Contempt proceedings require due process.

- Punishment of barring an attorney from a division of a superior court is not available for criminal contempt; the superior court's power to punish is limited by O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8. In re Siemon, 264 Ga. 641, 449 S.E.2d 832 (1994).

Defenses to contempt.

- Defenses to both civil and criminal contempt are that the order was not sufficiently definite and certain, was not violated, or that the violation was not willful (e.g., inability to pay or comply). Schiselman v. Trust Co. Bank, 246 Ga. 274, 271 S.E.2d 183 (1980).

Counterclaim to contempt petition not permitted.

- In a proceeding wherein a neighbor filed a contempt petition against another neighbor and the responding neighbor filed a counterclaim to the petition, the trial court upheld the finding of contempt on the part of the responding neighbor with regard to that party failing to comply with prior orders of the trial court in the parties' long-standing boundary dispute, but reversed the contempt finding with regard to the petitioning neighbor on the counterclaim. The trial court erred in allowing the responding neighbor to file a counterclaim to the contempt petition as a contempt proceeding was an ancillary matter related to the primary action and was more in the nature of a motion proceeding, not a situation where a pleading was allowed. Reece v. Smith, 292 Ga. App. 875, 665 S.E.2d 918 (2008).

Distinction between civil and criminal contempt.

- If the contemnor is imprisoned for a specified unconditional period, the purpose is punishment and thus the contempt is criminal. If the contemnor is imprisoned only until the contemnor performs a specified act, the purpose is remedial and hence the contempt is civil. Ensley v. Ensley, 239 Ga. 860, 238 S.E.2d 920 (1977).

Most important factor in distinguishing civil and criminal contempt is the purpose of the contempt judgment. If the judgment's purpose is to coerce the contemnor into compliance with the court's order or to compensate the complainant for losses sustained, then the proceeding is civil; on the other hand, if the judgement's purpose is to punish or to vindicate the authority of the court, then the proceeding is criminal. Hopkins v. Jarvis, 648 F.2d 981 (5th Cir. 1981).

Despite the Georgia Supreme Court previously suggesting the ex-husband could be assessed for damages and repairs to the rental property, such a remedy could no longer serve the purpose of civil contempt to obtain future compliance with the divorce decree since the rental property was foreclosed upon and sold; thus, future compliance was no longer at issue and the trial court was authorized to impose unconditional criminal punishment for the ex-husband's prior acts of contumacy. Sponsler v. Sponsler, 353 Ga. App. 627, 838 S.E.2d 921 (2020).

Treating civil contempt as criminal contempt.

- Court may find that contempt proceedings originated and pursued by party seeking civil contempt should be treated as one for criminal contempt. Schiselman v. Trust Co. Bank, 246 Ga. 274, 271 S.E.2d 183 (1980).

Findings of fact and conclusions of law are not required in motion for contempt. Adkins v. Adkins, 242 Ga. 248, 248 S.E.2d 646 (1978).

General phrasing of notice sufficient as to both civil and criminal charges.

- If a person is on notice that the person is being tried for contempt and the movant seeks "such other sanctions as is appropriate to ensure the enforcement and the observance" of the court's order or seeks "such other relief as may be appropriate," the contemnor is on notice that the proceeding is both civil and criminal in nature and that criminal sanctions may be imposed in an appropriate case. Schiselman v. Trust Co. Bank, 246 Ga. 274, 271 S.E.2d 183 (1980).

When omission of word "criminal" in notice of contempt not fatal.

- Omission of the word "criminal" in a notice of contempt proceeding is not fatal if the notice fully describes the conduct charged, there is no showing that the contemnor was prejudiced by the failure to clearly denominate the nature of the contempt proceeding, and the contemnor was accorded all rights due a defendant in a criminal contempt proceeding. Schiselman v. Trust Co. Bank, 246 Ga. 274, 271 S.E.2d 183 (1980).

Appeal must be filed with application pursuant to § 5-6-35. - Notice of appeal from a judgment of contempt regarding a domestic relations decree (finding violations by harassment, abuse, threats, assaults, annoyances, and willful refusal to make house payments as ordered), which judgment imposed a 20-day unconditional imprisonment, must be dismissed for failure to file an application for appeal pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 5-6-35(a)(2). Russo v. Manning, 252 Ga. 155, 312 S.E.2d 319 (1984).

Attorney fees.

- Trial court was authorized to award attorney fees in a contempt action arising out of a divorce and alimony case, but the court should not have made payment a condition for purging the contempt without first allowing a reasonable time to pay the fees. Gay v. Gay, 268 Ga. 106, 485 S.E.2d 187 (1997).

Attorney fees are not awardable in conjunction with a citation for criminal contempt. Rolleston v. Cherry, 237 Ga. App. 733, 521 S.E.2d 1, cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1046, 120 S. Ct. 580, 145 L. Ed. 2d 482 (1999).

Contempt order requiring the plaintiff to pay $ 17,296.53 in attorney fees and litigation costs under O.C.G.A. § 9-15-14 was affirmed on appeal because the trial court expressly stated that the amount was intended to prevent future violations of, and to coerce compliance with, the injunction issued against the plaintiff and no case law prohibited such a civil contempt sanction. Shooter Alley, Inc. v. City of Doraville, 341 Ga. App. 626, 800 S.E.2d 588 (2017).

Attorney fees cannot be awarded.

- Trial court does not have authority to award attorney fees as punishment for contempt. Ragsdale v. Bryan, 235 Ga. 58, 218 S.E.2d 809 (1975).

Power of the superior court to punish contempt is limited by O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8, and there is no power to award attorney fees in contempt proceedings. DeKalb County v. Bolick, 249 Ga. 843, 295 S.E.2d 92 (1982); Eckerd Corp. v. Fayette County Bd. of Tax Assessors, 220 Ga. App. 454, 469 S.E.2d 285 (1996); Johnson v. Kaplan, 225 Ga. App. 53, 483 S.E.2d 292 (1997).

Attorney fees are not included in the permissible sanctions for contempt and may not be awarded. Rapaport v. Buckhead, 234 Ga. App. 363, 506 S.E.2d 690 (1998).

Attorney fees not permissible sanction for criminal contempt.

- Contempt sanction against the redeeming creditor in the amount of $5,000.00 was vacated as the sanction related to the award of attorney fees as attorney fees were not permissible sanctions for criminal contempt, nor were attorney fees awardable in conjunction with a citation for criminal contempt. J. Michael Vince, LLC v. SunTrust Bank, 352 Ga. App. 791, 835 S.E.2d 809 (2019).

Attorney held in contempt.

- "Sentence" of criminal defense attorney in trial court's order to conduct oneself properly as an attorney was actually the method by which the attorney could purge oneself of the contempt. Nothing in O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(5) prohibits such an order. In re Booker, 195 Ga. App. 561, 394 S.E.2d 791 (1990).

Because the attorney's motion hearings in one county conflicted with what the attorney thought would be the simple entry of a plea in a second county, but the matter in the second county went to trial (partly because of the attorney's lack of communication with the client), and the attorney failed to appear, or give the second county seven days notice or prompt notice of the conflict, a contempt conviction was proper, a $500 fine, and a requirement to complete 25 hours of community service was not excessive. In re Holt, 262 Ga. App. 730, 586 S.E.2d 414 (2003).

Sanction included removal of attorney from appointed counsel list.

- After a trial court held defendant, an attorney, in contempt for allegedly intentionally misstating information about a client during a bond hearing, the trial court acted within the court's authority under O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(5) in directing that defendant's name was to be removed from the county appointed counsel list as the sanction simply addressed the administration of the court's business. In re Schoolcraft, 274 Ga. App. 271, 617 S.E.2d 241 (2005).

Suspension of sheriff not authorized.

- Superior court was authorized to inflict summary punishment for contempt predicated upon the willful failure of a sheriff, an officer of the court, to obey an oral direction by the court to transfer a defendant to a jail in another county, but was not authorized to temporarily suspend the sheriff, an elected officer, from the position as sheriff. In re Irvin, 171 Ga. App. 794, 321 S.E.2d 119 (1984), modified on other grounds, 254 Ga. 251, 328 S.E.2d 215 (1985).

Willful violation of court order by sheriff.

- Trial court did not err in finding a sheriff in criminal contempt for willful violation of the court's order directing the sheriff to transport to the county courthouse four named criminal defendants imprisoned at the county jail for the purpose of hearings in criminal cases because the trial court was empowered to determine that the orderly administration of justice required the presence of the four prisoners at the courthouse and to order the sheriff to transfer the prisoners from the jail to the courthouse; the order was clear and did not direct the sheriff to send one deputy with four prisoners, and the sheriff had ample deputies and resources under the sheriff's control to comply with the court order. In re Bowens, 308 Ga. App. 241, 706 S.E.2d 694 (2011), cert. denied, No. S11C1123, 2011 Ga. LEXIS 581 (Ga. 2011).

Review of trial court decision.

- Judgment of trial court in punishing contempt will not be disturbed unless it appears that there is no evidence to support the finding. Shafer v. State, 139 Ga. App. 360, 228 S.E.2d 382 (1976).

Trial court's adjudication of contempt will not be interfered with unless there is a gross, enormous, or flagrant abuse of discretion. Renfroe v. State, 104 Ga. App. 362, 121 S.E.2d 811 (1961), overruled on other grounds, In re Crane, 253 Ga. 667, 324 S.E.2d 443 (1985); Shafer v. State, 139 Ga. App. 360, 228 S.E.2d 382 (1976).

All violations of order need not be proved.

- Fact that a petition for citation for contempt also charged a violation of a restraining order not based on the contempt order, which the evidence may have failed to show, did not render erroneous a judgment finding the party guilty and imposing penalties within the provisions of this section as for a single act. Carroll v. Celanese Corp. of Am., 205 Ga. 493, 54 S.E.2d 221 (1949), cert. denied, 338 U.S. 937, 70 S. Ct. 345, 94 L. Ed. 578 (1950).

Punishments not applicable to civil contempt.

- Punishments which may be imposed for a criminal contempt set forth in O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(5) do not apply to civil contempt sanctions. In re Harvey, 219 Ga. App. 76, 464 S.E.2d 34 (1995).

When the trial court ordered an appellant to pay a receiver's fees in order to be purged of civil contempt, this did not violate O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(5) as the limitations imposed by this provision were not applicable to sanctions imposed for civil contempt. Huffman v. Armenia, 284 Ga. App. 822, 645 S.E.2d 23 (2007), cert. denied, 2007 Ga. LEXIS 554 (Ga. 2007).

Monetary limit of O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8(5) addresses the circumstance of criminal contempt and is not applicable to sanctions imposed for civil contempt; accordingly, the statute did not apply to an order requiring a husband to pay his wife $1,500 per day until he paid her certain insurance proceeds as the sanction was clearly remedial and thus was civil. Chatfield v. Adkins-Chatfield, 282 Ga. 190, 646 S.E.2d 247 (2007).

Fine in excess of statutory maximum.

- Superior court's order punishing contempt by fine of $25,000 was vacated as in excess of the statutory maximum. Mathis v. Corrugated Gear & Sprocket, Inc., 263 Ga. 419, 435 S.E.2d 209 (1993).

Trial court's imposition of punishment for landlord's contempt, that of ordering the landlord to relocate the tenant to another apartment, pay all the expenses associated with the relocation, and reimburse the tenant for the cost of a new mattress and box-spring comparable to that which the tenant owned, not to exceed $500, was vacated as the trial court's contempt punishment could not exceed $500 and the court's order did not make it clear whether the sanction exceeded that amount. H. J. Russell & Co. v. Manuel, 264 Ga. App. 273, 590 S.E.2d 250 (2003).

Appellate court reversed that portion of the trial court's order imposing a fine of more than $1,500, which was the statutorily permitted amount for the professor's three acts adjudicated as criminal contempt at $500 per act. Murtagh v. Emory Univ., 321 Ga. App. 411, 741 S.E.2d 212 (2013), overruled on other grounds by SRM Group, Inc. v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. of Am., 308 Ga. 404, 841 S.E.2d 729 (2020).

Excessive criminal contempt fines prohibited.

- Probate court's award of damages was reversed because the court could not construe the imposition of more than $19,000 as a fine for criminal contempt as acts of criminal contempt could be punished by fines not exceeding $500, and the imposing of damages for civil contempt violated the law because the probate court imposed damages unconditionally and there was no complaint in the record. In re Estate of Butler, Ga. App. , S.E.2d (July 17, 2020).

Reduction of excessive fine.

- If the fine initially imposed by the trial court was in excess of the fine authorized by this section, the trial court had authority to amend the court's order, reducing the fine to the statutory maximum. Shafer v. State, 139 Ga. App. 360, 228 S.E.2d 382 (1976); Mathis v. Corrugated Gear & Sprocket, Inc., 263 Ga. 419, 435 S.E.2d 209 (1993).

Order for a fine exceeding $500 was not in accord with O.C.G.A. § 15-6-8 because the trial court did not find more than one specific violation of the court's injunction. Lee v. Environmental Pest & Termite Control, Inc., 243 Ga. App. 263, 533 S.E.2d 116 (2000).


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.

Discretion of sheriff to choose when bond of traffic violator returnable.

- Sheriff has the discretionary right to choose, from the circumstances involved in the offense, whether a misdemeanor violator of the traffic laws shall be required to give bond returnable to the superior court or shall be taken before the probate court upon request. 1952-53 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 51.

Appeal by Public Service Commission.

- Public Service Commission as defendant in superior court action for injunction has right to appeal to Georgia Supreme Court. 1967 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 67-40.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 20 Am. Jur. 2d, Courts, § 10.


- Mandamus to compel court to assume or exercise jurisdiction where it has erroneously dismissed the cause or refused to proceed on the ground of supposed lack of jurisdiction, 4 A.L.R. 582; 82 A.L.R. 1163.

Formality in authentication of judicial acts, 30 A.L.R. 700.

Right of state or federal court to protect litigants by enjoining proceedings in bankruptcy, 32 A.L.R. 979.

Jurisdiction of equity courts in the United States, without the aid of statute expressly conferring it, to entertain independent suit for alimony or separate maintenance without divorce or judicial separation, 141 A.L.R. 399.

Propriety of disposition of pending action involving controversy within religious society or other nonprofit association, by ordering election, 158 A.L.R. 182.

Jurisdiction of court to award custody of child domiciled in state but physically outside it, 9 A.L.R.2d 434.

Appealability of order relating to transfer, on jurisdictional grounds, of cause from one state court to another, 78 A.L.R.2d 1204.

Attorney's failure to attend court, or tardiness, as contempt, 13 A.L.R.4th 122.

Modern status of rule relating to jurisdiction of state court to try criminal defendant brought within jurisdiction illegally or as result of fraud or mistake, 25 A.L.R.4th 157.

Personal jurisdiction over nonresident manufacturer of component incorporated in another product, 69 A.L.R.4th 14.

Media's dissemination of material in violation of injunction or restraining order as contempt - federal cases, 91 A.L.R. Fed. 270.

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