Have a case in Fulton County? If so, you have likely become familiar with the term Judicial Officer, but you may have questions about what exactly a Judicial Officer is, and what they do. We’re here to help.
The superior court of Fulton County has a division, the Family Division, which is specifically devoted to hearing domestic relations or family law cases in the Metro Atlanta area. In Fulton County, judicial officers are appointed to help judges and have quasi-judicial powers. According to the Superior Court of Fulton County Family Division Revised Rules:
“The Judicial Officer shall serve during the absence or upon the request of the Family Division Judge and shall perform such duties as designated by the Family Division Judges.
A Family Division Judge may designate a Judicial Officer to preside over a Status Conference and all other proceedings excepting a hearing, Motion for Contempt and final trial. A Judicial Officer may preside at a hearing Motion for Contempt or other judicial proceeding only upon the consent of both parties. Consent of both parties is deemed given if neither party files a written request to have the Judge preside over the matter prior to the Judicial Officer commencing the proceeding.”
Superior Court of Fulton County Family Division Revised Rules, Rule 1000-4. As the above cited Rule indicates, Judicial Officers have judicial powers that are very similar to those of Judges. They may preside over Status Conferences and other proceedings, make decisions and orders, and they may even preside over certain hearings if both parties consent.
Judicial Officers are selected from among the members of the State Bar of Georgia, and must, among other things, be in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia, be a resident of Fulton County, have practiced family law for seven or more years, or have experience practicing before a court with a docket consisting of 50% or more family law cases, and be of good moral character. See Superior Court of Fulton County Family Division Revised Rules, Rule 1000-2. Judicial Officers in Fulton county are integral to the efficient function of the Court as they relieve the congestion on the Judge’s calendars and provide parties with easier access to judicial determinations on preliminary or pre-trial matters such as temporary orders or discovery disputes.