Your Complete Guide to the Georgia Court of Appeals

Before visiting the Georgia Court of Appeals, you should know more about it. The firm of Strickland Webster, L.L.C. offer this guide. Learn more here!

What Is the Georgia Court of Appeals?

 

Suppose you or your loved one has been convicted of a criminal offense in a Georgia trial court. In that case, you may appeal the decision at the Georgia Court of Appeals, allowing you to avoid the consequences and penalties associated with criminal convictions.

The Georgia Court of Appeals was established in 1906 and is vital to the Georgia judicial system. It is the state’s intermediate appellate court, and its decisions are second only to those of the Georgia Supreme Court in some instances.

The court has fifteen judges, including a chief and presiding judges. The judges hear cases in panels of three across five divisions. Its primary role is to hear civil or criminal appeals from trial courts in the state, except in cases where the Supreme Court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction. The judges may also certify legal questions to be decided by the Supreme Court in deserving cases.

The Court of Appeals does not conduct new trials. It will only review the record from the lower court and hear oral arguments from the parties if there are issues of law involved. Nevertheless, it is still an opportunity to challenge an unfavorable decision or for convicted persons to regain their freedom or at least get off on easier terms. As such, the process shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The information provided here offers some clarity to help you understand the appeal court process and help you prepare for your appeal adequately. Keep reading to learn more.

Who Is the Chief Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals?

Sworn in on June 22, 2023, Amanda H. Mercier is the current Chief Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals. She is the fifth woman to hold the position. Before her appointment, she had been a Georgia Court of Appeals judge since 2016 and was the Vice Chief Judge before her appointment.

Cases Handled By the Georgia Court of Appeals 

The Georgia Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over civil and criminal appeals in the following cases:

    • Cases involving title to land
    • Equity cases and cases involving extraordinary remedies except for those concerning proceedings in which a sentence of death was imposed or could be imposed and those concerning the execution of a sentence of death. Criminal appeals in such cases are handled exclusively by the Georgia Supreme Court.
    • Divorce and alimony cases
    • Correction of errors of law in cases involving the crimes of armed robbery, rape, and kidnapping wherein the death penalty has not been imposed
    • All other cases are not reserved for the Supreme Court or conferred on other courts.

    Despite being an intermediate appellate court, Georgia Court of Appeals decisions usually conclude most Georgia cases due to the limited jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. If you’re dealing with a criminal case, you must take your appeal seriously, as it could be your last shot at avoiding a criminal conviction.

      Types of Appeals Heard at the Court

      There are several Types of Appeals in Legal Cases heard at the Georgia Court of Appeals. They include the following:

      • Direct Appeals: By the Georgia Code, direct appeals to the Court of Appeals are primarily used to challenge the final decisions of the lower court. Here you can ask the appellate court to review your case if you feel that the lower court made a substantial error that led to your unfavorable decision.
      • Interlocutory Appeals: Interlocutory appeals are used to challenge orders that the trial court makes before the case is concluded.
      • Discretionary Appeals: A discretionary appeal can only proceed with the permission of the appeal court. The types of cases subject to discretionary appeals are listed in section 5-6-35 of the Georgia Code. In those instances, the appellant must submit a petition to convince the court that their appeal is worth hearing. Such petitions must be filed at the Court of Appeals within 30 days of the unfavorable decision.

      Each kind of appeal follows different rules and procedures depending on the subject matter of the case and the type of decision being challenged. If you’re unsure which type of appeal applies in your case, you can consult your attorney for personalized legal advice.

      At the end of the appeal process, the court would affirm or reverse the lower court’s decision or send the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.

      But the court would usually not reverse a lower court’s decision unless an error occurred during the trial that led to a miscarriage of justice. As the appellant, you must show the appeal court that the decision against you or conviction was made in error. You can consult a skilled criminal appeals attorney to learn how.

      Contacting the Georgia Court of Appeals

      The Court of Appeals is located on the 1st floor of suite 1601,330 Capitol Ave., S.E, Atlanta, Georgia 30334. It is open from Monday to Friday between 08:30 AM – 04:30 PM. You can visit the court within these hours if you need information about your case. Alternatively, you can call the court clerk’s office at (404) 656-3450 to inquire.

       

      How Cases Are Scheduled at the Appeals Court in Georgia 

      Cases at the Court of Appeals are scheduled according to statutory requirements. According to the Georgia Code, the Georgia Court of Appeals sits for three terms annually. The December term starts in December and ends on March 31 of the following year. The April term begins in April and ends on July 17, while the August term ends on November 18. If the statutory dates fall on a weekend or holiday, the term will end on the closest business day before the given date.

      Once a case is scheduled to be heard in a specific term, the Georgia Constitution requires the court to conclude the case and give a decision before the end of the next term. Cases are scheduled in a way that allows the court to comply with this rule.

      The bench also has specific dates for hearings and arguments- usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the court is in session. But the court can schedule cases for argument on other days if necessary. These dates are published online in the court’s oral argument calendar. You can check the calendar to confirm the scheduling information if your case is pending.

      Accessing the Court’s Docket 

      The court’s docket is public, and you can find information on cases decided since January 2003 on its online platform. You’ll need any of the following information to complete your search:

      • The docket/case number

      • The trial court case number

      • Part of or the entire case title

      If you need to get the entire record of an already decided appeal, you can call the clerk’s office to confirm its availability and schedule a date to view the record.

       

      Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me at the Appeals Court?

      Generally, yes. You will need a lawyer’s help when filing an appeal and making the necessary arguments at the Georgia Court of Appeals. This is because appealing a case requires specific legal knowledge and expertise. It’s also important to have an experienced team at the appellate court that can make compelling arguments and protect your rights.

      Your lawyer will help you prepare the necessary documents and guide you. They will also review your case’s relevant legal aspects to determine if there was an error in the lower court’s decision or conviction. With their help, you’ll have a better chance of getting a favorable outcome.

      Contact Experienced Georgia Appeals Lawyers Today

      Dealing with a criminal conviction is not something anyone would wish for, considering the associated penalties and consequences. An appeal offers you a second chance to have your case reviewed by a higher court and could change the outcome of your case for the better. Even if you believe all hope is lost, an appeal might signal light at the end of the tunnel, and it is worth exploring. After all, what do you have to lose?

      If you’ve decided to explore this option or are unsure of your choices, you could start by speaking with a court of appeal lawyer at Strickland Webster LLC. Our notable results speak for us. We’d happily apply our wealth of experience in criminal appeals and post-conviction reliefs for your benefit.

      Contact us today to assess your case and decide on the next line of action.