THE GEORGIA COURT SYSTEM
At the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, we are sometimes asked about what courts exist in Georgia and what are the roles of each court. While our law firm primarily deals with Atlanta car accident attorneys who fight for personal injury claims, this article provides a brief overview of Georgia’s court system.
State Court vs. Federal Court
Each state has its own courts. The federal court system exists independently of each state’s courts. The average person or business is far more likely to be involved in a state court case than a federal case, so I am going to focus on Georgia’s courts here. (The term “state court” can be confusing since it can refer to the State of Georgia’s courts, or it can refer to a specific type of court, the State Court.)
Each county in Georgia has several courts, each of which handles certain types of claims. The kinds of cases a court can take is referred to as its “jurisdiction.” Georgia courts include:
- The Superior Court: whose jurisdiction is broad and includes felony criminal cases and most civil cases.
- The State Court: which handles misdemeanor criminal cases and civil cases except for those that must be brought in Superior Court, such as divorce and support cases and actions for an injunction.
- The Probate Court: which handles wills and the administration of estates
- The Magistrate Court: commonly called Small Claims Court, which handles, among other things, claims for $15,000 or less.
Municipal Court (in some cities)
- The Georgia Court of Appeals: which handles appeals from the trial courts in most civil and criminal cases; and
- The Georgia Supreme Court: which handles appeals from the trial courts in limited classes of cases (such as those involving injunctions) and reviews decisions of the Court of Appeals.
- Each larger county (such as Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett) has its own courts. Smaller counties often share courts with other counties.