The Douglas County Magistrate (Small Claims) Court handles claims under $15,000 and garnishment actions. A Magistrate Judge holds a hearing to decide each case. You may file a claim in Magistrate Court without an attorney. You may have an attorney represent you, at your own expense, if you choose. The Court does not appoint attorneys for civil cases. Either a person or a business may be sued.
If the defendant is a corporation, you must sue the corporation itself, rather than someone who works for the corporation. The Registered Agent for the corporation may be served for the corporation. To verify if a business is incorporated and to obtain the Registered Agent’s name and address, contact the corporation’s listing office of the Georgia Secretary of State at 404-656-2817. This information may also be obtained at the Georgia Corporations Division website.
The Magistrate Court accepts cash, personal checks, and business checks. It also accepts VISA and MasterCard, but there is a 4% convenience fee charged by the credit card processing company for the use of this option.
Criminal Bond Hearings
Criminal bond hearings are held in the Magistrate Court on the judicial side of the Douglas County Courthouse Monday through Friday mornings. Bond hearings are held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 9 am, and at 8:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When a person is arrested, he/she appears for a bond hearing unless he/she has already been released from jail on a pre-set bond, which are bonds that are predetermined for a few misdemeanor offenses.
At the bond hearing, the Magistrate Judge determines if the defendant should be given a bond and the amount of the bond. The Judge determines if special conditions should be set on the defendant’s bond. The defendant, if released on bond, would appear in a few months for an arraignment in another Court and for trial.
If the defendant is in jail and unable to make bond, he is entitled to a criminal preliminary hearing if his case has not yet been presented to the Grand Jury or an accusation has not yet been drawn. Preliminary hearings are held every Thursday in the Magistrate Court, third floor, Douglas County Courthouse, at 1:30 pm.
The Magistrate Court also holds pre-arrest warrant hearings on some cases in which individuals attempt to obtain warrants against other persons.
Important Things to Remember
- If you are a party in a small claims suit and your address changes, you should notify the Clerk of the Magistrate Court in writing of your new address. The Court notifies you of your Court date by regular mail.
- The Magistrate Court was designed for you to represent yourself. However, you may have an attorney represent you.
- Once a Court date has been set by the Clerk, continuances are granted only by consent of both parties or for legal causes.
- It is very important that the correct party is sued. If there are any doubts as to who you should sue, you should consult an attorney.
- The Clerk cannot give advice on whom to sue. The Clerk can help with filling out the necessary forms.
- The Court cannot force the losing party to pay. Keep in mind, you may not be able to collect on the judgment.
- Finally, it is important to remember that you have been given basic information for suing in the Magistrate Court. Some cases require more detailed instructions and preparation than what you may have read. If you have any questions that do not require legal advice, the Clerk will be pleased to assist you. The Clerk can be reached at 770-920-7540, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.
- All pleadings must be originals with original signatures
- No faxed copies of pleadings are accepted
- Pleadings must have signatures notarized
- A self-addressed stamped envelope is required with all filings