P.O. Box 963 Cartersville, GA 30120                                                          Phone: 770-387-5480    Fax:  770-387-5479
Seventh Judicial
Administrative District

S. Lark Ingram                   Jody Overcash                 Carrie Sims
District Administrative Judge           District Court Administrator            Administrative Assistant

Seventh Judicial Administrative District

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THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA

The Supreme Court of Georgia is this state's highest court.  Although Georgia's constitution was amended in 1835 to authorize a Supreme Court, Acts of 1835, p. 49, it was not until 1845 that the Legislature established an appellate court, Acts of 1845, p.18. The Supreme Court is a court of review, meaning it is a court for the correction of errors of law.  Prior to 1845 a new trial before a new jury in the local court was the only procedure available for the correction of judicial error.

The Supreme Court's first session was held at Talbotton, Georgia, on January 26,1846. The first three judges chosen by the General Assembly to serve on the Court were Joseph Henry Lumpkin of Athens, Eugenius A. Nisbet of Macon, and Hiram Warner of Greenville. Their salaries were set at $2500.00 per year.

At the time of the creation of the Supreme Court, Georgia's population stood at approximately 800,000. The state was divided into eleven superior court circuits, and the judges of the Supreme Court traveled the state, holding court in nine different localities during the course of the year. Travel, at each judge's own expense, amounted to over 1,000 miles per year, only 300 of which were covered by railroad. Cases were decided at the term submitted; decisions were handed down from the bench orally and only later reduced to writing. The hardships involved in riding the circuit lasted until shortly after the Civil War when the Constitution of 1865 provided that the Court would sit at the seat of government.

The Constitution was amended in 1896 to provide for the addition of three justices to the Court and to provide that justices and the chief justice would be elected by the people. A seventh justice was added by the Constitution of 1945 and since that time the composition of the Court has remained the same.

THE COURT'S JURISDICTION

The 1983 State Constitution provides that the Supreme Court shall be a court of review and shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction in the following cases:

  1. all cases involving the construction of a treaty or of the Constitution of the State of Georgia or of the United States and all cases in which the constitutionality of a law, ordinance or constitutional provision has been drawn in question; and
  2. all cases of election contest; and that unless otherwise provided by law it shall have appellate jurisdiction of:
    1. cases involving title to land,
    2. all equity cases,
    3. all cases involving wills,
    4. all habeas corpus cases,
    5. all cases involving extraordinary remedies,
    6. all divorce and alimony cases,
    7. all cases certified to it by the Court of Appeals, and
    8. all cases in which a sentence of death was imposed or could be imposed.

Additionally, the Supreme Court may answer any question of law from any state or federal appellate court and may review by certiorari cases in the Court of Appeals which are of gravity or great public importance.

The Supreme Court has power to make such orders as are necessary in aid of its jurisdiction or to protect or effectuate its judgments.