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Best of Gwinnett 2016: With Justice for All

Gwinnett’s bustling court and legal system is housed on a 61-acre site in the Gwinnett County Justice & Administration Center, commonly referred to as GJAC, home to 27 courtrooms.

Gwinnett’s courts consist of six jurisdictions, along with treatment courts and a newly established business court partnership. The Gwinnett Court system’s six distinct jurisdictions include Superior Court, State Court, Magistrate Court, Probate Court, Juvenile Court, and the Recorders Court. A head judge presides over each court.

Superior Court
Superior Court is a trial court of general jurisdiction. Judges in Superior Court have the exclusive, constitutional authority over felony cases, prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, involving title to land, equity, declaratory judgments, habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition, adoptions and divorce. The Superior Court is authorized to correct errors made by lower courts.

State Court
The State Court is a trial court with limited jurisdiction. Judges at the State Court handle misdemeanor and traffic violations, prosecuted by the Solicitor’s Office and all civil actions except those for which the Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction.

Magistrate Court
The Magistrate Court judges have jurisdiction of civil claims of $15,000 or less, county ordinance violations, applications for and issuance of arrest and search warrants, preliminary hearings, dispossessory writs and distress warrants. Judges in this court do not handle trials. The Superior and State Courts handle some appeals from
this court.

Probate Court
Probate Court exercises jurisdiction over the business of life such as birth, marriage and death certificates, administration of estates and probate of wills, certificates of residence and issues involving temporary and permanent custody of minors. Permits for fireworks, firearms and guns are also handled within the Probate Court.

State Court
Juvenile Court judges are charged with hearing cases involving children and teenagers. These types of cases may include custody and felony charges. It could also involve cases dealing with delinquent or unruly juveniles.

Recorder’s Court
The judges in the Recorder’s Court handle traffic tickets. Recorder’s Court also handles all Gwinnett County code ordinance violations, including citations by Gwinnett County Animal Control, the Planning and Zoning/Inspection Department, the Business License Department, and the Environmental Health Department.

Gwinnett Treatment Court Program
The Treatment Court is a program designed to reduce recidivism among defendants with addiction (drug and/or alcohol) or mental health issues, including veterans. The Treatment Court has several components, including Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court, Veteran’s Treatment Court, and Pre-Trial Diversion (PTD) Court. The Treatment court focuses on treatment, support, and sentencing alternatives. Treatment Court is a collaborative effort among the Superior Court, the District Attorneys Office, defense attorneys, police agencies, probation programs, and drug treatment programs.

Metro Atlanta Business Court
This summer, Gwinnett became the first Atlanta-area county to join Fulton County’s business court. This court focuses on large and complex business cases, such as commercial litigation, contracts and torts, and cases involving a number of pieces of Georgia business legislation. Proponents believe the business court is more efficient at handling business-specific cases.