History of the Magistrate Court
The Georgia Magistrate Court system was established by an Act of the Georgia Legislature, effective July 1, 1983. This legislation created the court following the adoption of a new Georgia Constitution in 1982 which unified Georgia's Courts. Previously, the Magistrate Court was better known as Justice Courts utilizing Justices of the Peace.
With the implementation of the magistrate court system, all small claims courts and justice of the peace courts in Georgia were abolished and the existing judges of those courts became magistrates. All 159 counties are required to have a Chief Magistrate Judge assigned. Cases heard in this court are scheduled quicker than many courts and will allow for an expedited conclusion.
Duties of the Magistrate Court
The Magistrate Court hears civil and criminal cases. No jury trials are held in the Magistrate Court. All appeals are transferred to the Superior Court. It is the duty of the Magistrate Court to provide an accessible court system to a citizen who may not be that familiar with the judicial system of Georgia. The process is much simpler, less complex and oftentimes quicker when it comes to having cases resolved than in other courts.
In the Magistrate Court it is not mandatory that you have an attorney for the presentation or defense of your case. Pro Se litigants (persons representing themselves) can present or defend their case, whether it be civil or criminal in nature.
If a matter you are involved in seems to necessitate an attorney, you are the person who has to make that decision. No Magistrate Court personnel can provide legal advice in any manner to a person utilizing this Court. The Magistrate Court will no longer schedule or conduct weddings in the office.
With the increase in the duties required by law of the office and the fact that weddings are not required by law or compensated, our office is no longer able to provide this service. We apologize for the inconvenience. The Baker County Magistrate Court Judge will not be conducting any marriage ceremony during business hours or after hours.