When there is a dispute between two or more parties and a lawsuit is filed it then enters the litigation process. Litigation is the process of bringing, and defending a lawsuit (Chessman, 2013). This process can be very costly and normally takes a lot of time. Litigation has a set of rules that must be followed throughout the process and normally a lawyer is involved. Though a lawyer is not required through the process; it is highly recommended that one be retained to help guide things.
The state of Georgia has different levels within the court system that oversee litigations and trials. Those levels are the Magistrate, Probate, Juvenile, and State, Municipal, and Superior courts. The final court system is the supreme courts. The Magistrate courts take care of cases minor and have claims that total less than $15,000 total. No jury trials are held at this level and attorneys are not utilized often because the parties usually fight their case. Most probate courts do not hear misdemeanors, or handle traffic violations. In counties where there is no state courts, probate courts will handle some of those issues. These court systems mostly handle the issuing of marriage license as well as licenses to carry fire arms. Original jurisdiction in the probate of wills and administration of decedents’ estates is designated to the probate court of each county (Council, 2013). Probate judges can authorize involuntary hospitalization of incapacitated adults. Juvenile courts handle cases involving individuals under the age of 18. That includes all traffic violations committed.
If a juvenile wants to enter the military before his or her 18th birthday or get married, they will also appear in front of a judge in a probate court. Juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts in child custody and child support matters arising from divorces cases, and in proceedings to terminate parental rights (Council, 2013). State courts hear misdemeanors within the county they reside. They handle traffic violations, issue search warrants as well as arrest warrants. State courts exercise limited jurisdiction within one county (Council, 2013). Cities and towns in Georgia establish municipal courts to handle traffic offenses, local ordinance violations, handle preliminary hearings, issue warrants, and hear misdemeanor shoplifting and possession of marijuana cases (Council, 2013). Superior courts reside over all felony trials. This court system can also correct mistakes that took place within one of the lower courts. The superior court exercises both civil and criminal jurisdiction (Council, 2013). These courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over divorces.
There are forty nine superior courts in Georgia. The Supreme Court system is the highest court in Georgia. They review decisions made in civil and criminal cases by a trial court judge or by the Court of Appeals. They also rules on questions involving the constitutionality of state statutes and all criminal cases involving a sentence of death. No trials are held at the appellate level, nor do the parties appear before the court (Council, 2013). When a litigation is started it can be very costly and time consuming for both parties. Alternative dispute resolutions are designed to keep matters out of the court system which will cut time, costs, and in some instances aggravation. The most common ADR is arbitration. In arbitration, the parties choose a non-bias third party to hear and decide in disputes. Witnesses can be called to help the parties with their cases while the arbitrator is there to facilitate. The rules that are used in the federal court system is normally used during the arbitration process. Normally, after the process is done, the arbitrator reached a decision and issues a reward. This is normally binding. I would definitely recommend going through the arbitration process rather than thru litigation. Cost and time wise it more beneficial to try this ADR method rather than going thru the courts (Chessman, 2013).
Chessman, H. R. (2013). Business Law: Legal environment, online commerce, business ethics, and international issues (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Council of Municipal Court Judges Website. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.georgiacourts.org/councils/municipal/georgia_court_structure.html