How the Georgia Supreme Court Works: A Complete Guide 

Before visiting, you may want information about the Georgia Supreme Court. Strickland Webster, L.L.C. offers resources and support. Learn more here.

What Is the Supreme Court of Georgia?

The Georgia Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority in the state. It has the power to hear appeals from lower state courts and decides on some new cases as well. Its decisions are final (unless they involve federal constitutional law).

The role of the Supreme Court of Georgia includes reviewing cases that lower courts have decided. However, its authority to hear appeals in civil and criminal cases is considerably limited by the Georgia Constitution and the Appellate Jurisdiction Reform Act 2016. For instance, the state’s highest court is empowered to hear criminal appeals straight from the lower trial courts if the offense involves the death sentence. All other criminal cases or appeals would likely end at the Georgia Court of Appeals.

So, if your loved one or family member has been convicted of a capital offense such as murder or armed robbery by a Georgia superior court, you might feel that their fate has been sealed. But thanks to the structure of the Georgia court system, there’s still hope. The convicted person might be able to file an appeal with the Georgia Supreme Court and get the court to review their case positively.

The information provided here explains how the court works and can help you manage your expectations throughout the appeal process. Keep reading to learn more.

Jurisdiction of the Georgia State Supreme Court

By the Georgia Constitution and the Georgia Code, the Georgia Supreme Court is empowered to decide cases that involve:

  • The interpretation of a treaty, the Georgia or US Constitution
  • The constitutionality of a law or a section of the Georgia Constitution
  • Election contest
  • A sentence or potential sentence of death
  • Habeas corpus.

The court’s jurisdiction extends to questions of law in cases certified or referred from the Georgia Court of Appeals or federal courts. It also serves as a tiebreaker in Georgia Court of Appeals cases where the Court of Appeals justices are equally divided in reaching a decision.

The Supreme Court can also decide on Georgia Court of Appeals cases of great public importance. The procedure for hearing such cases is via the writ of certiorari. If you want to know more, you can contact a Georgia attorney to clarify how the writ of certiorari works.

As a court of review, the Supreme Court does not conduct a new trial for the cases it hears on appeal. Instead, it evaluates the evidence already admitted by the lower court ( from written briefs submitted by the parties) and the applicable law in each case before reaching a decision.

At the end of the appellate review process, the court would affirm or reverse the lower court’s decision or make any other order that would finally dispose of the appeal.

How the Supreme Court Justices Decide Cases

The Supreme Court of Georgia has nine justices (including the chief justice) chosen by votes in nonpartisan elections to serve a term of six years each.

The decisions of the justices are far-reaching. As such, they are bound to exercise their powers only as permitted by the Constitution of Georgia, the Georgia Code, and the Supplementary Supreme Court Rules.

By the Georgia Code, each justice must participate in the appeal process by affirming or reversing the decision in review. For a lower court decision to be overturned or reversed, the majority (at least five) of justices must concur. The lower court’s judgment stands if there is a tie.

Preparing for an Appeal at Georgia Supreme Court 

Because the Supreme Court of Georgia is a court of review, it does not conduct a new trial for appeal cases. Neither will you be asked to present oral arguments as the appellant or respondent. Instead, attorneys for each side are expected to submit written briefs stating their positions and grounds for appeal.

For an appeal to the Supreme Court, you need to seek the help of a lawyer familiar with appellate procedures in Georgia. An experienced federal appeals lawyer will ensure that your brief meets all legal requirements and help guide you through the entire appeals process.

Contact Information for the Court

The Supreme Court of Georgia is on the 1st floor, suite 1100 of the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, 330 Capitol Avenue, S.E. Atlanta, Georgia, 30334.

If you have questions about your case, contact the court clerk’s office at (404) 656-3470 or by Fax at (404) 656-2253.

You can also visit the courthouse from Monday to Friday between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The clerk’s office is open at these times, and the staff there can help if you need to file any document or get information related to your case.

However, the court staff cannot help you if you have specific legal concerns about your case or want to bring an aspect of your case to the justices’ attention. In such circumstances, you’ll need to consult an attorney for help.

The Court’s Schedule

The court’s schedule is divided into three terms annually- December, April, and August.

The December term begins on the first Monday in December and lasts till the end of March each year. The April term starts on the first Monday and lasts till July 17. The August term begins on the first Monday in August to November 18.

By the court’s rules, a case must be decided within the term that follows the one where it was scheduled for oral arguments unless the court extends the time limit.

Accessing the Court’s Dockets

The court’s docket is the official record of cases handled by the court and is used to schedule cases for hearings. The docket is public, and you can find court dates and information on pending cases, and cases decided within the last five years. But you’ll need to provide one of the following details before you can access the docket:

  • The case number
  • Names of the parties
  • The lower court case number
  • The Court of Appeals case number
  • The name of the attorney handling the case.

The information you can get on the online docket platform is limited. If you need to view an entire case file, you must visit the clerk’s office during the court’s business hours. You can also make copies of any documents for a fee.

How an Attorney Can Help 

You or your loved one can represent yourselves at the Supreme Court. Still, that course of action could pose several problems.

First, you must become familiar with the court’s rules and apply them accordingly. The court is unlikely to make an exception if you make any mistakes contrary to the laws, which could adversely affect your case. Also, the court’s e-filing system is unavailable unless you’re an attorney. This could make the appeal process more complicated for you.

Such issues can be avoided if you get a lawyer admitted to practice law at the Supreme Court to handle the case on your behalf. Such attorneys, like those from Strickland Webster, LLC, are familiar with the rules and processes of the court and can apply their knowledge to your case to help you get a positive outcome.

Legal Procedures, Case Handling, and Attorney Admissions

Navigating the labyrinth of legal procedures at the Georgia Supreme Court requires not just a deep understanding of the law but also an acute awareness of procedural nuances. Attorney admissions to the Georgia Supreme Court are a critical first step, ensuring that only qualified legal professionals can represent clients in this esteemed court. The process is stringent, with candidates required to demonstrate not only their legal knowledge but also their commitment to ethical practice.

Case handling in the Georgia Supreme Court is a meticulous process. Each case undergoes a rigorous review, ensuring that all appeals meet the court’s criteria before proceeding. This includes a preliminary assessment of the legal and factual basis of the appeal, adherence to procedural requirements, and the potential impact of the case on Georgia law. The court’s procedural framework is designed to filter out cases that do not meet its high standards, focusing on those that raise significant legal questions or have far-reaching implications.

The court’s approach to legal procedures emphasizes efficiency and fairness. With set terms for hearing cases and a structured schedule, the court manages its docket to ensure timely resolution of matters. This systematizes the appeal process, from filing to decision, ensuring that each case receives the attention it deserves. Moreover, the court’s electronic filing system streamlines submissions, making it easier for attorneys to submit documents and for the court to manage its caseload.

In essence, the Georgia Supreme Court’s handling of legal procedures, case management, and attorney admissions underscores its role as a bastion of justice. By maintaining high standards for both the cases it hears and the attorneys who argue them, the court upholds the integrity of the legal system in Georgia.

Worried About Your Georgia Supreme Court Case? We Can Help at Strickland Webster, LLC

Suppose you have further questions about your case or wonder whether your case falls within the court’s jurisdiction. In that case, you can contact us at Strickland Webster, LLC.

We are committed to helping clients with severe criminal convictions overcome the myth of overwhelming evidence and regain their freedom through post-conviction processes like habeas corpus and appeals. We understand that the stakes are high. You can trust us to handle your case diligently and with every sense of responsibility.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and decide on the next steps.