Superior Court of Fulton County is Georgia's busiest trial court of general jurisdiction. The twenty Judges of the Superior Court preside over administrative appeals and civil, major criminal and domestic relations cases. Through several innovative programs, the Court offers Fulton County citizens meaningful access to the judicial system. Three divisions, Diversionary Drug Court, the Family Division and Business Court, provide specialized services to citizens.
Fulton County constitutes the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, Fifth Judicial Administrative District. The State of Georgia is divided into ten districts containing several circuits and counties. The Atlanta Circuit, Fifth Judicial Administrative District is so populous that it contains only Fulton County.
Superior court is Georgia’s general jurisdiction trial court. The court has exclusive, constitutional authority over felony cases, divorce, equity and cases regarding title to land. The superior court corrects errors made by lower courts by issuing writs of certiorari; for some lower courts, the right to direct review by the superior court applies. Each county has its own superior court. The courts are organized into 48 judicial circuits, each created by the General Assembly. The number of superior court judges per circuit ranges from two to 20 judges. A chief judge handles the administrative tasks for each circuit. As of July 31, 2007, 202 judges served in Georgia’s 159 superior courts. Superior court judges are elected to four-year terms in nonpartisan, circuit-wide races. To qualify as a superior court judge, a candidate must be at least 30 years old, be a citizen of Georgia for at least three years, and have practiced law for at least seven years. Superior court judges who have retired and taken senior status may hear cases in any circuit at the request of a local judge, an administrative judge or the governor. The Judicial Administration Act of 1976 grouped the Superior Court circuits into 10 judicial administrative districts composed of from one to 27 counties. An administrative judge for each district has statutory authority to compile caseload data and to assign superior court judges, with their approval, to serve temporarily in other counties and circuits as needed.
Fulton County was created out of Dekalb County in 1853. Its boundaries were set by an act of Legislature on February 7, 1854. The Coweta Circuit, pre-cursor to the Atlanta Circuit, was established in 1833. In 1869, its name was changed to the Atlanta Circuit. At that time, it was comprised of Clayton, Dekalb and Fulton Counties. On September 8, 1885, Clayton and DeKalb left to become part of the newly formed Stone Mountain Circuit.
* Adapted from 1998 Annual Report on the Work of the Georgia Courts
Judicial Council of Georgia / Administrative Office of the Courts
with updated information