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Magistrate Court

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 HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR MAGISTRATE COURT PURSUANT TO THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA’S SECOND ORDER EXTENDING STATEWIDE JUDICIAL EMERGENCY

THE FOLLOWING GENERAL RULES WILL APPLY TO ALL MAGISTRATE COURT PROCEEDINGS:

  •  EVERY OTHER PEW IN THE COURTROOM SHALL REMAIN EMPTY
  • OCCUPIED PEWS LIMITED TO COUPLES SITTING TOGETHER OR SIX FEET BETWEEN EACH PERSON
  • PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE COURTROOM IS NOT RESTRICTED BUT IF YOU DO NOT HAVE BUSINESS BEFORE THE COURT WE REQUEST YOU DO NOT ENTER
  • MASKS ARE ENCOURAGED BUT NOT REQUIRED 
  • MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING WITHIN THE COURTROOM
  • IF YOU EXHIBIT COVID-19 LIKE SYMPTOMS PRIOR TO COURT DO NOT COME TO COURT.  CALL PRIOR TO YOUR COURT DATE AND TIME: 706-868-3316 
  • IF YOU EXHIBIT COVID-19 LIKE SYMPTOMS DURING COURT YOU MAY BE ASKED TO LEAVE
  • ANYONE 65 OR OVER OR IN A HIGH RISK CATEGORY PER THE GOVERNOR’S ORDER IS EXCUSED UNTIL AFTER JUNE 12.  PLEASE CALL MAGISTRATE COURT PRIOR TO YOUR COURT DATE TO CONFIRM: 706-868-3316
  • DOOR HANDLES, SEATS, TABLES, PODIUMS AND OTHER POINTS OF CONTACT WILL BE CLEANED AFTER EACH COURT SESSION IS CONCLUDED

FOR PRELIMINARY HEARINGS THE FOLLOWING RULES SHALL APPLY:

  •  HEARINGS WILL BE HELD VIA VIDEO CONFERENCING ONLY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
  • CASES WILL BE STAGGERED IN THIRTY MINUTE BLOCKS STARTING AT 9:00AM 
  • THREE CASES WILL BE SET FOR EACH THIRTY MINUTE BLOCK
  • WITNESSES AND FAMILY MEMBERS SHALL REMAIN OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM UNTIL THEIR CASE IS CALLED

FOR CIVIL AND DISPOSSESSORY CASES THE FOLLOWING RULES SHALL APPLY:

  •  CASES WILL BE STAGGERED IN THIRTY MINUTE BLOCKS STARTING AT 8:30AM
  • THREE CASES WILL BE SET FOR EACH THIRTY MINUTE BLOCK
  • WHEN YOU ARRIVE NOTIFY THE BAILIFF OUTSIDE COURTROOM 3 THAT YOU ARE PRESENT
  • DO NOT ENTER THE COURTROOM UNTIL YOUR CASE OR NAME IS CALLED
  • MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING OUTSIDE COURTROOM 3
  • THE SMALL OFFICES JUST OUTSIDE COURTROOM 3 WILL REMAIN CLOSED

FOR PRE-WARRANT CASES THE FOLLOWING RULES SHALL APPLY:

  •  CASES WILL BE STAGGERED IN THIRTY MINUTE BLOCKS STARTING AT 8:30AM
  • TWO CASES WILL BE SET FOR EACH THIRTY MINUTE BLOCK
  • WHEN YOU ARRIVE NOTIFY THE BAILIFF OUTSIDE COURTROOM 3 THAT YOU ARE PRESENT
  • DO NOT ENTER THE COURTROOM UNTIL YOUR CASE OR NAME IS CALLED
  • MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING OUTSIDE COURTROOM 3
  • THE SMALL OFFICES JUST OUTSIDE COURTROOM 3 WILL REMAIN CLOSED

 

The Magistrate Court oversees many operations for the county, including the resolution of Civil Disputes, County Ordinance Violations, and the issuance of Criminal Arrest and Search Warrants.

*PLEASE NOTE WE DO NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AT THIS TIME*

**If you are filing a dispossessory, please use the "Dispossessories" tab below for the correct form.**

Court Personnel

  • Jason R. Troiano: Chief Magistrate Judge
  • Rodney Quesenberry: Magistrate Judge
  • Dale Jenereaux: Magistrate Judge
  • Madonna Little: Magistrate Judge
  • Hope N. Hornsby: Magistrate Judge
  • Jill D. Morris: Magistrate Judge
  • Stephanie Darabaris: Chief Clerk
  • Jonathan Heise: Chief Marshal

For Attorneys

Hearing requests, requests for continuances and other procedural matters will not be considered without an Entry of Appearance filed with the court.

Civil Cases in Magistrate Court

The civil jurisdiction of Magistrate Court includes dispossessory actions (evictions), garnishments, and general civil actions where the amount of the controversy does not exceed $15,000. A civil case is one where a party seeks money damages from another party for alleged wrongs. The types of civil cases which the Court generally hears are suits for money owed from one party to another, claims for damage to person or property, landlord/tenant disputes, writs of possession matters and breach of contract cases. The only types of civil cases which cannot be considered by Magistrate Court are divorces, cases where equitable relief is sought and issues involving the title to land. All other civil matters may be heard by Magistrate Court, provided the amount in controversy does not exceed $15,000. More information about Civil Cases.

Civil Case Management Search

Instructions

Disclaimer

While every effort is made to keep information provided over the internet accurate and up-to-date, Columbia County does not certify the authenticity or accuracy of such information. No warranties, express or implied, are provided for the records and/or mapping data herein, or for their use or interpretation by the User.

Columbia County, the Columbia County Commission, its elected officials, officers, employees, and agents assume no legal responsibilities for the information or accuracy contained in this data, including any action taken from reliance on any information contained herein and shall have no liability for any damages, losses, costs, or expenses, including, but not limited to attorney's fees, arising from the use or misuse of the information provided herein. The User's use thereof shall constitute an agreement by the User to release Columbia County, the Columbia County Commission, its elected officials, officers, employees and agents from such liability.

By using this information, the User is stating that the above Disclaimer has been read and that he/she has full understanding and is in agreement with the contents.

Yes, I Agree


Arrest and Search Warrants

The criminal jurisdiction of Magistrate Court consists of considering and issuing arrest and search warrants, hearing County Ordinance violations and bad check citations, conducting preliminary hearings, First Appearance hearings and setting of bond in most cases.

The law requires that a 'neutral and detached Magistrate' consider sworn testimony before any arrest or search warrant may be issued. Both the United States Constitution and the Georgia Constitution require that a person may only be arrested or his or her home or business searched by law enforcement officials upon a showing of probable cause. Magistrate Judges are available to law enforcement officials 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to consider the applications for arrest and search warrants.

There are times when a private individual will seek the arrest of another private individual for an alleged crime. Georgia law requires a hearing before an arrest warrant can be issued at the request of a private individual for the arrest of another private individual except in very limited circumstances. These hearings are referred to as 'Pre-warrant Hearings' and Magistrate Judges conduct these hearings on a weekly basis.

If a private citizen seeks the arrest of another private citizen a written request for a warrant must be made to the Magistrate Court during normal work hours. The warrant request must be the sworn allegation of the person seeking the warrant. The person requesting the arrest warrant must first make a police report and will need the name, address, Social Security Number, date of birth and other identifying information for the alleged offender. Although some of this information may be difficult to obtain, the information is required because, assuming a warrant is issued, law enforcement will need the information to enter the warrant into the Georgia Crime Information Center's computer. If the warrant fails to have this information, law enforcement officials will have no way to locate and identify the offender.

If a warrant request is made by a private citizen in absence of exigent circumstances, the person whose arrest is sought is entitled to receive notice of any scheduled hearing. A hearing will be conducted before a Magistrate Judge and a decision will be made as to whether the arrest warrant should be issued, not issued or some other disposition of the case should be made. If an arrest warrant is issued, the warrant will be forwarded to the Sheriff for execution and the case will ultimately be sent to the District Attorney for prosecution.

When an arrest warrant is issued - without regard as to whether it was requested by a private citizen or a law enforcement official - a Magistrate Judge will consider the issue of bond (bail). In most cases a Magistrate Judge will be responsible for the issue of bond. The Magistrate Judge will consider the facts of the case, the history of the offender, and all other circumstances made known to the Magistrate in deciding the issue of bond. Bond is not intended as punishment, rather, is intended to ensure that the Defendant will appear at trial to answer for the charges. Except in misdemeanor cases, the Magistrate Judge may refuse bond but only if he or she finds that certain circumstances exist which suggest that no amount of bond will ensure that the Defendant will appear for trial or poses such a risk to the community that the Defendant should not be released on bond.

Marshal's Department

Functions of the Marshal's Department consist of the service of civil and criminal papers that are filed within the court, providing courtroom security for all sessions of Magistrate Court, performing all evictions within the county, and assisting plaintiffs with the collection of judgments.

Fieri Facias (FIFA's):

A FIFA is a post-judgment order of the court allowing the Marshal to levy upon property of the defendant in order to satisfy the corresponding judgment. In addition, when a FIFA is recorded in superior court a lien is automatically placed on any real property that is owned by the defendant within the county. Once the Marshal's Department receives the FIFA, a money demand will be made; however, a deputy will contact the plaintiff first as the money demand is an optional step in the levy process. If the defendant refuses to pay, or is unable to come up with a payment plan that the plaintiff will accept, the levy process can be initiated. More information regarding the levy process.

Evictions:

The eviction process starts when a landlord (or his/her agent) files a dispossessory affidavit in the Magistrate Court of Columbia County. The affidavit is then given to the Marshal's Department for service. Once service is perfected on the defendant (tenant), the defendant has seven days to file an answer with the court. If the tenant fails to answer or is unable to prove their case in court, a writ of possession is granted. At that point, a 48 hour (courtesy) notice is left at the residence and a Deputy Marshal contacts the landlord to schedule the eviction. During the actual eviction a Deputy Marshal will standby in order to ensure that the property is peacefully returned to the landlord. The landlord is responsible for providing all labor as well as paying any costs associated with the eviction.

Disposessories

Magistrate Court of Columbia County Eviction Form
Landlord/Tenant Handbook

Links

Richmond County Magistrate Court
McDuffie County Magistrate Court
Council of Magistrate Court Judges
Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia
GSCCCA
Columbia County Sheriff's Department
Richmond County GIS Maps Online
Georgia Secretary of State
County Ordinances
Municipal Codes
Garnishment Exemptions

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