Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

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Appellee Bobby Schroeder received a traffic ticket in DeKalb County in 2013. He alleged he appeared in recorder’s court and was ordered to pay a fine and that he timely paid the fine, but the staff of the recorder’s court failed to close his case. He asserted the court staff falsely informed the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) that he failed to appear for his hearing or pay his fine, leading to the suspension of his driving privilege. In August, an officer with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office arrested appellee for driving on a suspended license and took him into custody. Appellee claimed he spent significant time in custody before bonding out. Approximately one month later, an officer with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office arrested appellee for driving on a suspended license and took him into custody. According to appellee, at the time of his Rockdale and Newton County arrests, he was on first offender probation; the arrests led to the revocation of his probation, for which appellee was ultimately arrested and spent one month in jail. According to appellee, at some point, the recorder’s court realized that it had provided DDS with incorrect information, and sent a notice of suspension withdrawal to the department. This led to the dismissal of the Rockdale and Newton charges and the withdrawal of the probation revocation petition. Appellee claimed he lost his job because of these events. Appellee alleged DeKalb County Recorder's Court Chief Judge Nelly Withers and court administrator Troy Thompson were aware that the recorder’s court was "understaffed, dysfunctional, and unable to process its cases," and knew the court’s computer systems produced unreliable data because the systems were flawed or "because employees routinely entered data incorrectly, and that employees routinely failed to communicate correct information to DDS." Appellee filed this action for damages alleging that defendants failed to perform their ministerial duties with due care and that their actions led to appellee’s unlawful arrests. In addition to state law claims, appellee asserted claims under 42 USC 1983. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded appellants were protected from suit by the doctrine of judicial immunity and its derivative quasi-judicial immunity, and reversed the Court of Appeals’ opinion to the extent it allowed appellee’s suit to move forward against these two appellants. View "Withers v. Schroeder" on Justia Law

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Searless West was a former employee of the City of Albany who filed a complaint in federal court against the City and two individuals setting forth, among other things, a claim under the Georgia Whistleblower Act (“GWA”). With respect to West’s claims under the GWA, she sought economic and non-economic damages resulting from alleged retaliation for disclosing what she deemed to be certain financial irregularities in the City’s utility department. The City filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings with regard to the whistleblower claim, asserting it failed as a matter of law because West did not provide ante litem notice prior to filing the complaint. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, in an order finding no controlling precedent from the Georgia Supreme Court that addressed the legal issue raised by the City, certified a question of Georgia law to the Georgia Supreme Court: "is a plaintiff required to provide a municipal corporation with ante litem notice pursuant to OCGA 36-33-5 in order to pursue a claim against it for money damages under the [GWA]?" The Supreme Court answered this question in the negative. View "West v. City of Albany" on Justia Law

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Appellants GeorgiaCarry.org and Phillip Evans appeal the dismissal of their petition for declaratory and injunctive relief as to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s prohibition of weapons on the Garden’s premises. Evans, who holds a Georgia weapons carry license, visited the Garden twice in October 2014 and wore a handgun in a waistband holster each time. After gaining admission to the Garden on his second visit, Evans was stopped by an employee of the Garden and advised that he could not carry the weapon at the Garden; a security officer detained Evans, and Evans was eventually escorted from the Garden by an officer with the Atlanta Police Department. The Supreme Court agreed with appellants that the trial court erred in dismissing their case. "Appellants request for declaratory relief was not impermissible, and it was error to dismiss Appellants’ declaratory judgment action on the basis that it improperly called for the interpretation and application of a criminal statute." Accordingly, the trial court’s order was reversed in this respect. The trial court also dismissed Appellants’ request for injunctive relief; the Supreme Court concluded this was proper in part. The portion of Appellants’ requested injunctive relief (enjoining the arrest or prosecution of Appellants) squarely implicated the administration of criminal law and, thus, was improper. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "GeorgiaCarry.org v. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2013, former employees of two in-home personal care companies sued their former employers, asserting that they had not been paid the minimum wage to which they were entitled under the Georgia Minimum Wage Law (GMWL). The employers removed the case to a federal district court, which certified two questions to the Georgia Supreme Court: (1) whether, under Georgia law, an employee that falls under an FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act] exemption is effectively “covered” by the FLSA for purposes of OCGA 34-4-3 (c) analysis, thereby prohibiting said employee from receiving minimum wage compensation under the GMWL; and (2) whether an individual whose employment consisted of providing in-home personal support services was prohibited from receiving minimum wage compensation under the GMWL pursuant to the “domestic employees” exception in OCGA 34-4-3 (b)(3). After review, the Georgia Supreme Court answered both questions "no." View "Anderson v. Southern Care Home Services, Inc." on Justia Law