Georgia Court Records
How do Georgia Courts work?
The Supreme Court is the highest law authority in Georgia, and mainly serves to review those decisions made by the Court of Appeals in order to settle any debates, questions, or precedents. In 2018, there were 330 total cases for the Georgia Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals are in place to review any decisions made by inferior courts after a party involved has contested. In 2018, there were 3,115 total filings in the Georgia Courts of Appeals. There were 593 total cases in this year. There inferior courts would likely be one of the superior or trial courts across Georgia’s 159 counties.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
Civil cases refer to those in which the petitioner is looking for more than $250,000. Each year there are around 200,000 of these cases filed, and can also include non-monetary disputes over things such as ownership, restraining orders, and name changes. Cases heard in small claims court are those in which the petitioner is seeking $15,000 or under. The State of Georgia does however allow an unlimited figure on eviction cases. Small claims court is not represented by a counsel, and nearly 200,000 small claims cases are filed annually. These cases can range from dispute over deposits, to warranty issues, to disputes over money lending and more.
Appeals and court limits
There are a few differences between how Civil Courts and Small Claims Courts operate in the State of Georgia. For starters, you do not need a US citizenship to either file or defend a small claims case. If you do not understand or speak a good standard of English, you can also hire an interpreter. Pretrial discovery is allowed in civil cases, but not in small claims court. Each party has 120 days to complete their case after the first filing in civil court, compared to just 30-70 in small claims. The filing fees also differ, with a charge of between $180 and $320 per claim in civil court, and $30-$100 in small claims. A lawyer may be present and file papers on behalf of their client in civil cases, but not in small claims cases. Either party may also appeal in civil court, whereas only the defendant can appeal in small claims.
Why are court records public?
In 1959, the State Legislature in Georgia passed something called the Open Records Act, also known as the Georgia Sunshine Law. Since this time, there have been multiple amendments to the act, the latest being in 2012. The law gives Georgia residents the right to obtain public records whenever they want, exercising their rights as Americans. Access to said records comes under the Georgia Open Meetings Act, which governs how the documents and files are collected and disclosed. These acts work together to ensure that Georgians can access public records at all levels of government in the State. When the Open Records Act was put in place, it declared that access to information was a fundamental right of every resident.
You can access court records by contacting the Supreme Court of Georgia:
244 Washington Street
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: (404) 656-3470
Fax: (404) 656-2253
Or online at: www.georgiacourts.gov