*DUE TO CONTINUED SPREAD OF THE COVID-19 VIRUS, THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA HAS ISSUED A DECLARATION OF STATEWIDE JUDICIAL EMERGENCY THROUGH APRIL 13, 2020, UNLESS OTHERWISE EXTENDED. MERIWETHER COUNTY HAS FOUND IT NECESSARY TO LIMIT PUBLIC ACCESS TO COUNTY OFFICES FOR THE PROTECTION OF COUNTY CITIZENS AND OUR EMPLOYEES. CONTACT THE OFFICE BEFORE COMING: 706-672-1247
CIVIL DOCUMENTS CAN BE OBTAINED AT
MAIL DOCUMENTS TO P.O. BOX 702 GREENVILLE, GA 30222
The Georgia magistrate court system was established by an act of the Georgia legislature, effective July 1, 1983. This legislation created the court following the adoption of a new Georgia constitution in 1983 which unified Georgia’s courts, previously, the magistrate court was better known as justice courts utilizing justices of the peace. With the implementation of the magistrate court system, all small claims courts and justice of the peace courts in Georgia were abolished and the existing judges of those courts became magistrates. The magistrate court has jurisdiction in civil as well as criminal matters.
Duties of the Magistrate Court
It is the duty of the magistrate court to provide an accessible court system to a citizen who may not be that familiar with the judicial system of Georgia. The process is much less complex and often faster than cases resolved in other courts, in the magistrate court, it is not mandatory to have an attorney for the presentation or defense of a case. Prose litigants (persons representing themselves) can present or defend their case, if a matter you are involved in seems to require an attorney, you are the person who has to make that decision. No magistrate court personnel can provide legal advice in any matter to a person utilizing this court. It is also improper to attempt to speak to a judge about any pending matter.
The magistrate court is authorized to hear a variety of civil cases which include a statement of claims, dispossessory (evictions), foreclosure on personal property, garnishments, and abandon motor vehicles. The monetary limit is $15,000 with an exception to dispossessory actions (evictions), the monetary limit does not apply.
The magistrate court has the authority to issue criminal arrest warrants for both misdemeanor and felony offenses; and upon sworn testimony of a law enforcement officer, are authorized to issue search warrants. The court is empowered to issue good behavior warrants, as well. The court also serves to hold first appearance hearings, preliminary hearings and waiver of extradition hearings which are conducted after an arrest. The magistrate court also has the jurisdiction to hold trials for defendants charged with violating county ordinances and misdemeanor deposit account fraud (bad checks). Additionally, this court has the authority to hold pre-warrant hearings that are applied for by citizens.