State-by-State 2011 Legislative Year in Review: Georgia

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the Georgia legislature in 2011 include the following:

HB 24 Substantially revises, supersedes, and modernizes provisions relating to evidence.

HB 41 Exempts the Department of Law from the fee charged for the preparation of the record in capital felony cases. Reduces per-page cost to prepare record on appeal from $10 to $1.50. Exempts issuance of certificates of appointment of notaries public from the judicial operations fund fee.

HB 158 Changes date for non-partisan elections, including judges, to June from July.

HB 265 Creates 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians. Council to report to Chief Justice, Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House of Representatives by November 2011.

HB 266 Authorizes Magistrate Court Constables to carry firearms into courthouses and elsewhere in same manner as judges, police, etc.

HB 339 Revises the courts to which a challenge of a quarantine or vaccination order may be brought and manner of appealing orders concerning such challenges. Removes chief judge of the court of appeals’ power to declare judicial emergencies. Provides extensions of judicial emergencies by chief justice may only last as long as governor has declared state of emergency.

HB 415 Creates “modernized and uniform system of compiling, creating, maintaining, and updating jury lists.” Provides for state-wide compilation and distribution of the state-wide master jury list by the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia. Eliminates forced balancing of county jury pools by race, gender, and ethnicity for the purpose of complying with the United States and Georgia Constitutions and the Unified Appeal process. Modernizes terminology relating to juries. Removes nonmechanical procedures relative to selecting persons for jury service. Changes eligibility requirements for grand jurors. Provides the Council of Superior Court Clerks of Georgia assist county boards of jury commissioners with jury matters. Provides for the methodology for county boards of jury commissioners to obtain county master jury lists. Prohibits public disclosure of jury source lists except under certain circumstances.

SB 30 Requires municipal court judges to be attorneys. Allows those non-attorney judges currently serving to continue in service. Provides any judge serving as of June 2011 may continue to serve.

SB 39 Permits creation of mental health court divisions in any court with criminal jurisdiction.

SB 47 Changes provisions relating to the composition and responsibilities of the Georgia Magistrate Courts Training Council.