Georgia’s Municipal Courts are the most widely used courts in the state. They focus on preliminary hearings, traffic infractions, ordinance violations, shoplifting and possession of marijuana (of 1 oz or less) as well as issuing criminal warrants. The Municipal Courts have over 380 judges presiding over the courts. To qualify to be a Municipal Court judge in Georgia, the person must be an attorney, and they must also undergo training before taking their seat. Most are appointed by the mayor but some are elected by voters in their district.
The state of Georgia has a legal aid service which is an independent, non-profit organization. Local Georgia citizens who qualify as low-income can contact the Georgia Legal Services Program to obtain free legal services in civil cases. Their mission is: “to work for equal access to justice under law for all people of Georgia.”
Additionally, the Municipal Court website has a whole host of useful links for patrons to help them with things like finding a court clerk, continuing education, contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles or Bureau of Investigation, public safety, highway safety, the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education (ICJE), the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority (GSCCA) where fees and fines are paid and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). The GMA is a sister-site that provides citizens with advocacy services, news, training, and advice on a variety of legal-related and court topics. Municipal Courts are equipped with accessibility options for people with disabilities. They have a printed brochure explaining how to use their accessibility options.
Georgia’s Municipal Courts see about 1,186,083 new cases per year. Of those almost 80% are traffic-related cases. Another 7% are ordinance violations, 4.8% are misdemeanors, and the rest is split between civil disputes, minor drug charges, and serious traffic offenses.