How to File a Legal Appeal in GeorgiaAugust 8, 2023
Whether you have been wrongfully convicted or a family law order was not properly enforced, an appeal can be the first step in reversing a court’s decision. However, it’s important to know the rules and deadlines for filing an appeal.
Georgia has two special courts that take on appeals. These are the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals is Georgia’s intermediate appellate court. It reviews trial courts’ decisions in all civil and criminal cases not specifically reserved to the Supreme Court. It also may certify legal appeal in Georgia questions to the Supreme Court.
The judicial branch of government in Georgia is divided into several courts: superior courts, state courts, probate courts, magistrate courts, juvenile courts, county recorder’s courts, and municipal courts. The Georgia Constitution requires each county to have at least one superior court, a probate court, and a magistrate court.
In addition, the General Assembly may authorize or establish additional courts of limited jurisdiction, such as those with jurisdiction over probate of wills, administration of estates, appointment of guardians, involuntary hospitalizations, marriage licenses, and certain traffic cases.
In civil cases, the Court of Appeals hears almost all appeals taken from the superior and state courts. These include (since 2017) all cases involving title to land, wills, and divorce and alimony.
If you are dissatisfied with a court judgment, you can file an appeal to have it reviewed by another court. Appeals are complicated processes that require knowledge of the law and strict deadlines to follow.
Georgia laws provide three different avenues to appeal: direct appeals, interlocutory appeals and discretionary appeals. All of these procedures depend on the type of judgment being appealed.
In a direct appeal, the party must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the trial court’s entry of the order being appealed. This notice must identify the judgment or order being appealed and the grounds for the appeal.
Typically, a direct appeal must be based on an error of law. However, a party may also file a direct appeal if the judge made an error of fact. In addition, a party can also appeal if the judge abused his or her discretion.
Discretionary appeals are those that are filed directly with the Court of Appeals rather than the Georgia Supreme Court. The appellate court will consider the merits of the application, and may grant or deny it within 30 days.
The process for a discretionary appeal is simple: the parties file an application, and the trial court sends the record to the Court of Appeals. Upon receipt, the Court of Appeals dockets the case.
Applications for discretionary appeal must be accompanied by a stamped “filed” copy of the order or judgment on which the appeal is based. Applicants must also submit sufficient material to apprise the Court of the issues and support their argument.
Discretionary appeals are designed to alleviate the heavy workload of the appellate courts. They allow the courts to focus their resources on creating a consistent body of law and make sure that important laws are applied in a consistent fashion. They also allow parties to concentrate their resources on persuading lower courts to get matters right the first time.
If you’re a lawyer in Georgia, you’ve probably heard about the three basic ways to appeal a trial court judgment. Those are direct appeals, interlocutory appeals, and discretionary appeals.
The latter are the bulk of appeals in Georgia. However, they don’t get the same amount of time and attention as direct appeals, which is why it’s so important to make a compelling argument in your self-contained application.
The Georgia appellate procedure is by-and-large transparent, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing before you start. Look up the statutes and applicable cases to sort out which procedure is right for your case.