Legislative Positions of the Judicial Branch
 Bill Number Description/Concerns Official Position Judicial Contact Status

              SB 62

The Council of Probate Court Judges seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 15-9-30.3 to clean up contradictory language and to clarify jurisdiction of the probate courts as it applies to Fish and Game violations.

O.C.G.A. § 15-9-30.3(a)(2) states that probate courts cannot hear any violation of Hunting Deer at Night with Aid of Light, however, O.C.G.A. § 27-3-48 states the probate courts can hear violations of Hunting Deer at Night without Aid of Light. O.C.G.A. § 15-9-30.3(a)(1) states that probate courts cannot hear violations that are high and aggravated in nature, which includes all baiting offenses. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division has historically filed these offenses with the probate courts. Probate courts currently have concurrent jurisdiction over these violations with state and superior courts, and this change would not affect or impede the jurisdiction of those courts.

Support Probate Court
 Senate Natural Resources and Environment
HB 119

The Council of Probate Court Judges seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 24-12-21 to exempt probate courts from the processes in this Code Section for authority to disclose AIDS confidential information related to an order to apprehend a person needing a mental health evaluation under O.C.G.A. § 37-3-41.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 37-3-41, a probate court may issue an order to apprehend and transport a person to an emergency receiving facility upon the affidavits of at least two persons who attest that they have seen the person within the last forty-eight hours and that the person is believed to be mentally ill and requiring involuntary treatment. The probate court order expires in seven days.

The AIDS information may be stated in the affidavits supporting the grant of an order, but the process under O.C.G.A. § 24-12-21 to authorize the disclosure of this information legally requires a minimum of 72 hours of notice, usually resulting in a practical delay of at least 4 days. The present process greatly impedes the time sensitive procedure under O.C.G.A. § 37-3-41 and results in potential harmful delay to the person alleged to be in need of a mental health evaluation and to the community.

This amendment would afford all parties the ability to comply with the time requirements of O.C.G.A. § 37-3-41, to take necessary precautions, and to ensure public safety.

Support  Probate Court House Judiciary Committee 
HB 154 The Council of Magistrate Court Judges seeks an increase in the maximum fine for contempt in magistrate courts from $200 to $500. This was sought during the 2014 legislative session in Senate Bill 332, which passed the Senate but did not make it to the House floor. This change would make the contempt penalty in magistrate court consistent with other courts that do not hold jury trials and provide uniformity across jurisdictions. Support Magistrate Court House Judiciary Committee
Provision of Prosecuting Attorneys in Municipal Court O.C.G.A. § 15-18-91 & O.C.G.A. § 15-18-95

In the United States, citizens expect judges to be impartial and neutral, without arguing or favoring either side. However, municipal court judges face a troubling dilemma when the state has no representative to press or negotiate cases against defendants.

In 2012, a statute was enacted allowing the governing authority of a municipality to create the office of prosecuting attorney for municipal courts. O.C.G.A. § 15-18-91(a). But that statute does not mandate the creation of such office. Currently, municipal courts without prosecutors are operating in conflict with Georgia’s Uniform Municipal Court Rules.

Despite the court efficiencies offered by having a prosecutor, some municipalities have failed to provide prosecutors in their courts. An informal survey conducted by the AOC in January 2015 found that more than 60 municipal courts may be operating without a prosecutor. The Judicial Council supports requiring city attorneys to act as municipal court prosecutors, or to hire a prosecutor when needed to dispose of cases.

Support Municipal Courts Legislation has not been introduced
For Cause Removal of Municipal Court Judges O.C.G.A. § 36-32-2

 The Council of Municipal Court Judges, with the support of the Judicial Council of Georgia, seeks to amend O.C.G.A. § 36-32-2 to provide a general law that protects municipal court judges from political pressure and arbitrary dismissal.

Municipal courts are the only class of court in which judges may be appointed officials serving at the pleasure of another political branch of government. This limits the independent judgment of the municipal court judges, who are responsible for protecting the individual rights of the accused and empowered as judges to deprive offenders of their liberty for up to a year. A review of thirteen states with municipal court jurisdictions similar to Georgia found ten to have statutes providing just cause removal processes for municipal court judges; two others provide for just cause removal if the judges were elected. In Georgia, removal for cause provisions are included in the judicial article of modern city charters such as Johns Creek and Brookhaven.

Support  Municipal Courts  Legislation has not been introduced 



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Unless otherwise specifically stated, when a measure is posted on this site it does not imply the Judicial Council or any Council or Judicial Agency endorses the legislation or that the council has taken a formal position on the issue.