HISTORY OF THE COURT OF APPEALS
Over the last twenty years, statistics show a yearly increase in the number of cases considered by the Court of Appeals peaking in 1995. Although the caseload has remained fairly level since 1998, the cases filed per judge in 2000 still exceeded the national average for intermediate appellate state courts. Also, during the 1990s, the Georgia Court of Appeals was, on the basis of the number of cases decided by each judge, one of the busiest appellate courts in the country. Despite this demanding caseload, the Court is noted for its prompt rendition of quality decisions. Over three fourths of the 2,544 direct appeal decisions issued by the Court of Appeals in 2001 were final. Of the remaining quarter in which applications for certiorari were filed, the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to review less than 10%. As of the date of this publication, 18 of the 56 applications had been decided by the Supreme Court and only 6 were reversed.
Most opinions of the Court of Appeals are reported in full in the Georgia Appeals Reports and the Southeastern Reporter, and are available. Over the past several years, the Court has published an average of 1,461 opinions per year.
The first sessions of the Court of Appeals were held in a courtroom which was located in the State Capitol building. Initially, the courtroom was used in the afternoons by the Court of Appeals and in the mornings by the Supreme Court Later, this same courtroom continued to be used by both courts, sitting on separate days, until the State Judicial Building was completed in 1956. At the dedication proceedings of the present courtroom, reported at 93 Ga. App. 901, the motto engraved upon the marble wall behind the bench was noted: "Upon the integrity, wisdom and independence of the judiciary depend the sacred rights of free men." This credo was conceived and formulated by Chief Judge Jule Wimberly Felton, and reported in 243 Georgia XXIX. In 1992, at the suggestion of the first woman judge, Judge Dorothy Toth Beasley, the Court of Appeals revised its motto to read: "Upon the integrity, wisdom and independence of the judiciary depend the sacred rights of free men and women." These thought provoking words have guided the court well for many years and continue to inspire the members of the Court of Appeals.
At one time, the Chief Judge was elected by the Court and served in that capacity at the pleasure of the Court. Presently, the position of Chief Judge is rotated, usually for a two-year term and upon the basis of seniority of tenure on the Court. By statutory authorization the Chief Judge appoints a Presiding Judge for each of the four divisions. The Presiding Judges remain as the heads of the divisions for the full two-year term of the Chief Judge. The other Judges are assigned to the panels on an annual basis. The Court instituted this rotation procedure to diffuse the judicial power among the members of the court, to give each Judge the opportunity to serve with every other Judge on the court, and to avoid stereotyping of the judges, divisions, and their opinions.
The history of appellate courts in Georgia shows a consistent reluctance to have them at all and, when necessity demands their creation, a consistent determination to keep them as small as possible. The Supreme Court was not established until 1845, seventy years after Georgia became a state. Until the Supreme Court was established, Georgia was the only American commonwealth having a judicial system without an appellate court. At its creation, the first bench consisted of three Justices elected by the House of Representatives. During the first fifty years, the workload imposed upon the three Justices increased steadily.
The first move by the organized bar to alleviate the caseload on the Supreme Court came at the Bar Association's 1895 annual meeting in Atlanta, held at the Cotton States and International Exposition. This symposium followed a vote by the electorate against a constitutional amendment increasing the number of Justices on the Supreme Court from three to five during the previous October.
The first proposal to create a court of appeals was also made during the 1895 Bar Association annual meeting. In "Relief of the Supreme Court of Georgia: Is the Remedy One or More Intermediate Courts?", Volume Twelve, Page 23 of the Georgia Bar Association Reports, Z. D. Harrison, then Clerk of the Supreme Court, argued: "Let the Legislature establish a competent intermediate court, a court which will command the confidence and respect of the bar and of the people, and establish it, too, upon such terms as will make its entrance easy so that every litigant and suitor can enter this court upon terms quite as easy as those upon which he can now enter the Supreme Court by writ of error."
Among other ideas proposed in the bar association's report were the establishment of two supreme courts, one for criminal cases and another for civil; abolition of the contingent fee, restriction on the right to appeal; and limitation of the class of cases which could be reviewed by the Supreme Court. The Association also declined to consider the novel idea "to establish the right of trial by another jury . . . and have a trial by a first and second jury before a case can go to the Supreme Court." [Page 37].
Of particular interest in this report are the presentations of W. W. Gordon, Jr., of Savannah and Joseph Hansell Merrill of Thomasville, which appear as Appendix 10 and 11 respectively. These papers described a bill prepared by Superior Court Judge Pope Barrow of Savannah, which would have created five district courts of appeal. The bench was to be composed of jurists serving in the superior courts and city courts in the district who would be designated to handle the business of these courts of appeal. Atlanta, Athens, Savannah, Columbus and Macon were suggested as the locations where the district courts would hold their sessions. Judges were to be paid from the State Treasury at the rate of four cents per mile for travel and $4 per day for services.
Nothing further was done at this time towards the creation of another court, but in 1897, the Supreme Court was increased to six Justices. This increase in personnel apparently failed to provide a solution, as five years later, at the 1902 Bar Association session held at Warm Springs, there was another symposium on the subject. The discussion was based on a paper delivered by Justice Andrew J. Cobb captioned: "The Judicial System of Georgia: Its Defects; What Changes Are Necessary to Bring About a More Harmonious and Orderly System and to Relieve the Supreme Court?" This paper recites statistics demonstrating that it was not humanly possible for the Supreme Court Justices to manage the workload. See Appendix I, 19 Georgia Bar Association Reports 183. Justice Cobb noted, "The working hours of the Court for hearing argument and consultation have been, since October 1897, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Fall and Winter and 6 p.m. in the Spring and Summer. These hours, however, do not represent all of the working hours of the justices." [Page 187].
Among proposals mentioned in this paper were limitation of oral arguments, disposition of cases by a written synopsis of the points decided, reduction of the number of written opinions, addition of Justices and divisions, and restriction of jurisdiction by monetary amount or subject matter. Justice Cobb observed that "[s]ome favor an intermediate appellate court, from which a writ of error to the Supreme Court will lie only in certain cases." [Page 192]. Judge Barrow again submitted his bill to create district courts of appeal from the trial courts of the respective districts, but limited to three districts rather than five. Each judge was to be paid three cents per mile and $5 per day "for each day court is in session and he is sitting."
The 1902 symposium terminated with passage of a motion for appointment of a committee to draft a curative statute and designation of an eminent attorney from each Congressional District to serve on the statewide committee to prepare "Legislation for the Relief of the Supreme Court." Among these committee members were such legal luminaries as Washington Dessau from Macon, Samuel B. Adams from the First District, Arthur Gray Powell from the Second District, Hoke Smith from the Fifth District, and Marcus W. Beck from the Sixth District. Adams of Savannah later served in 1903 as an interim appointee on the Supreme Court bench. Powell became one of the first three Judges of the Court of Appeals. Smith was later Governor and United States Senator. Beck subsequently served on the Supreme Court for 32 years.
This committee suggested two constitutional amendments which were reported at the1903 annual meeting held at Tallulah Falls. One provided that a civil case could not be appealed to the Supreme Court unless the amount involved exceeded $500. The second amendment proposed to create a Court of Appeals. The court would have a Presiding Judge and four Associate Judges, with salaries of not less than $3,000 per annum. Jurisdiction was co-equal with that of the Supreme Court "for the trial and correction of errors from the Superior Courts and from the City Courts of Atlanta and Savannah and such other like courts . . . in all cases in which jurisdiction is not conferred by the constitution upon the Supreme Court."
The 1903 report was adopted with the requirement that a copy be mailed to every Georgia lawyer, along with an abridged version of Justice Cobb's 1902 address. The report was addressed "To the People of Georgia" and concluded as follows: "To a people numbering now largely more than two million, active in every commercial enterprise, advancing rapidly along all the best lines of civilization, spreading an influence all over the Union and determined to hold the State's place as the empire State of the South, this measure is commended as a step forward and upward, for the honor and glory of the Commonwealth of Georgia." [Page 143].
Despite this modern-seeming public relations strategy, the bill, which in October 1902 was introduced by John M. Slaton (who later became a Governor of Georgia), languished in the Legislature until 1906. In that year, Peter W. Meldrim of Savannah (later President of the American Bar Association) initiated an effort "to see that proper legislation is passed for the relief of the Supreme Court, looking to the establishment of a court of appeals." (23 Georgia Bar Association Reports 36). Again Justice Cobb spoke at length concerning the plight of the Supreme Court's swollen docket and the strain upon the health of the Justices seeking to perform an impossible task. He commented: "I think it is unfortunate that it has been termed a movement for the relief of the Supreme Court. It is a movement in behalf of the administration of the law, for the relief of those whose lives, whose liberty, whose property is involved, those who have been given under the constitution of the state the right to have an adverse decision reviewed." [Page 37].
The organized bar's campaign for legislation finally succeeded. On July 31, 1906, a bill to submit to the electorate an Amendment to the State Constitution, "to provide for the establishment of a Court of Appeals, and to define its powers and jurisdiction; . . . ," was approved almost unanimously, with only four votes in opposition. (1906 Ga. Laws, p. 24).
Under this constitutional amendment, the jurisdiction of the two appellate courts in civil cases depended upon the identity of the trial court in which the case originated; while the Supreme Court was given exclusive jurisdiction in capital felonies. The Court of Appeals was mandated to certify to the Supreme Court all state and federal constitutional questions and was privileged to "certify any other question of law concerning which it desires the instruction of the Supreme Court for proper decision." Although the amendment also provided that "[t]he decisions of the Supreme Court shall bind the Court of Appeals as precedents," each was designated a court of final jurisdiction. The amendment was ratified by the electorate at the general election of October 3, 1906.
The election of judges followed on November 6, 1906. There were sixteen candidates; the three receiving the most votes were to form the first bench. Arthur G. Powell of Blakely (who together with Logan E. Bleckley is regarded as among the very great appellate court judges) wrote in his fascinating book, I Can Go Home Again, that the original Bar proposal was for the Governor to appoint the Judges. Governor Terrell had agreed that he would appoint H. H. Perry of Gainesville, Henry C. Peeples of Atlanta, and Powell, but the House had altered the Bar proposal to require that the Judges be elected by the people. The Bar Association then asked these three lawyers to become candidates, and only Mr. Perry declined. The newspapers first announced that the three candidates receiving the highest votes were Richard Brevard Russell, Powell, and Peeples. Instead, the final tally of votes showed that Benjamin H. Hill, the son of Georgia's great United States Senator Benjamin Harvey Hill, had defeated Peeples by a few votes.
The original minutes of the Court of Appeals indicate that the three elected Judges convened at the State Capitol on January 2, 1907, and determined by lot the length of their respective terms. They appointed Logan Bleckley, the namesake son of the legendary Supreme Court Justice, as Clerk of Court, and James H. Pittman as the first Sheriff. These first minutes also reveal that by Supreme Court order dated December 17, 1906, 155 pending civil cases had been transferred to the new tribunal. Later, by order dated January 12, 1907, an additional 24 criminal cases and one more civil case were transferred.
Dissents developed on two matters at this first en banc meeting. The statute provided for "short-hand writers" to serve each Judge. Two males and one female were proposed. Powell dissented as to the woman, asserting that under the then Civil Code § 1810, "females were declared ineligible to hold any civil office or to perform any civil function, unless specially authorized by law," and that Civil Code § 5507 declared the Supreme Court stenographers to be civil officers. His dissent concluded: "If I could find any escape from what seems to be an irresistible [sic] legal conclusion, I would take great pleasure in joining with my brethren in the selection of this most excellent young lady." Judge Hill concurred with Judge Russell's nomination of the lady, stating that since he had "doubt on this [legal] question I prefer to concur to the appointment, especially in view of the practice of the Supreme Court in permitting the exercise of personal preference in the selection of stenographers by the individual judges." Thereby, Marian Bloodworth became the Court's first female employee. The first female attorney ever to argue a case before the Court of Appeals, as well as the Supreme Court, was Viola Ross Napier of Macon, Georgia.
The other dissent occurred in the determination of who was to be Chief Judge. Hill and Powell wanted the selection of Chief Judge to be based on seniority according to age. Judge Russell dissented vigorously. Not only did he contend that the legislative intent was "that all of the judges should be equal," but with customary "Russell candor" he argued that the proposal was one that was "arbitrary and personal." He concluded, "I have never yet, and cannot now, give my consent to any doctrine which gauges the peculiar fitness of any individual for office holding by his age or youth, other than the present statutory requirements. The achievements and services of our young men are perhaps the preeminent glories of American history. Long life sometimes brings knowledge but not always wisdom."
In an article in the Summer 1948 issue of The Georgia Review entitled "The Birth of the Court of Appeals of Georgia," Judge Powell revealed the inside story as to how Hill was persuaded to vote for himself: "He [Hill] told me he was anxious to be the first Chief Judge of the Court, but did not wish to commit the indelicacy of voting for himself. I told him that I could avoid that embarrassment for him; that the constitutional amendment had made no provision for the selection of a Chief Judge. I reminded him that the same situation had confronted the Supreme Court when it was organized in 1845, and that an act had been passed providing that the oldest Justice in commission or (if there were more than one whose commissions were of the same date) the one who was oldest in point of time should be Chief Justice. I told him that in the present plans of organization I had been delegated to draw, I could with propriety embody such a provision, and that with his vote and mine it would be adopted, and that he would so automatically become the Chief Judge." [Page 151]. As one reads Powell's beautiful opinions, one should remember that when he became Judge he was 34 years old and that he remains to this day the youngest person to have served on this bench.
Despite Judge Russell's candid arguments, the rule of age prevailed. Hill, being 57 years old, became the first Chief Judge. Russell was then 45 but afterwards became Chief Judge and in later years Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was the father of the famed United States Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. His grandson, Robert L. Russell, Jr., was also to serve on the Court of Appeals. This Russell combination is the only one of grandfather-grandson in the Court's history. As the Russells came from Winder, it is of interest to note that the only father- son combination (Joseph D. Quillian and J. Kelley Quillian) were also from Winder. Of further interest is the fact that Julie and Clay Custer, children of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Custer of Albany, have the distinction of having had both of their grandfathers serve as Judges on the Court of Appeals, viz., Judge Vance Custer and Judge Julian Webb.
Examination of the original Rules of Court drafted by Judge Powell illustrates the importance in those days of the oral argument when "briefs" really meant brevity. Historically, the shortest written presentation in Georgia was by Robert Toombs and consisted of four words: "Marriage-Seizin-Death-Dower." Rule 5 stated that "[a]rgument is limited to four hours upon each case, two hours on each side, unless by special leave an extension of time is granted." Perhaps the oral argument did assist the Court, as the Court's first opinion was rendered only three days after oral presentation.
However, with the ever-increasing number of appeals and, therefore, of opinions to be written, the oral argument of necessity subsided in importance. Today judicial reliance on the written brief has become paramount. Compare the initial rule with that appearing on the current oral argument calendars of the Court of Appeals: "The following cases have been placed on the calendar for argument. . . . Generally, the cases will be called in the order listed and on the days named, beginning at 10 o'clock a.m. To accommodate the bar and pro se parties, the Court will call cases out of turn in which counsel or pro se parties respectively inform the Clerk that time of argument will be limited to 5 or 10 minutes per side. [Rule 28 (f)]."
Our three progenitors, Hill, Russell and Powell, proved to be legal giants. That the work of these jurists was favorably received by Georgia lawyers is shown by a resolution unanimously adopted at the 1907 annual bar meeting, which requested West Publishing Company to add this Court's opinions to its Southeastern Reporter because "these decisions will be valuable not only in this State, but in every law library in America."
During the first ten years of its existence there was no review of this Court's decisions by our Supreme Court. Its judgments were final. Apparently, however, the existence of two courts of last resort created problems. An address by J. R. Pottle of Albany appearing in the 1914 Georgia Bar Association Reports (pages 216-226)detailed the conflicts between decisions of the two appellate courts (which arose despite the constitutional requirement that the Supreme Court rulings were to be binding precedents) and it provided supporting statistics. J. R. Pottle had been Judge Powell's law partner in Blakely, and succeeded his partner on this bench when Powell resigned to enter private practice in Atlanta in January 1912. Pottle served two years and then returned to practice in Albany. Thus, he was able to present these problems from the prospective of both a former judge and as a practitioner.
By its 1915 annual meeting, the workload of the two appellate courts had grown so much that the Georgia Bar Association deemed it necessary to take positive steps toward alleviation. Noting that for two successive years none of the appellate judges had been able to attend its meetings, the Association passed a resolution, supplemented with an appropriation of $1,000, aimed at "working out measures of relief." Part of this resolution reads: "Whereas, said courts have been forced to remain in continuous sessions with no opportunity for even the briefest vacation, and without cessation from their onerous and exacting labors; and whereas, said courts are now annually deciding more than 1600 cases, which is a greater number than can be disposed of with satisfaction to the bar or credit to the court, even with the incessant slavish toil to which the Justices and Judges are being subject. . . ."
Thereafter, in 1916, the General Assembly took action. Rejecting the suggestion of having one court deal exclusively with appeals of criminal cases and the other with civil, the 1916 Legislature approved for submission to the electorate a constitutional amendment which limited the class of cases over which the Supreme Court was to have jurisdiction and enlarged that of the Court of Appeals. This amendment was ratified by the people the same year.
Only a few other jurisdictional changes have occurred since 1916. The first was a 1956 constitutional amendment providing for direct review by the two appellate courts of juvenile court judgments. In Powell v. Gregg, 224 Ga. 226, the Supreme Court held that those cases were solely within the purview of the Court of Appeals. Another change, by statute, transferred from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals jurisdiction over appeals of cases of armed robbery, rape and kidnaping where the death penalty is not imposed, and transferred from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving contested elections and the validity of legislative enactments of municipalities (Ga. Laws 1977, p. 710).
Anticipating passage of the proposed 1916 constitutional amendment, the General Assembly also passed a statute changing the structure of the Court. This Act added three Judges to the three already comprising the bench of the Court of Appeals and provided for them to sit in two divisions, with each to determine "independently of the other the cases assigned to it." The statute directed that "all criminal cases shall be assigned to one division." In complying with the statutory directive to "[d]istribute the cases between the divisions in such manner as to equalize their work as far as practicable," the Judges decided that two criminal cases would equal one civil case. In an address to the 1927 Georgia Bar Association annual meeting, Judge R. C. Bell stated that "in making up the calendars for the arguments the cases are allotted to the two divisions on this basis until the criminal cases are exhausted, after which the remaining civil cases are distributed equally to the two divisions." (44 Georgia Bar Association Reports 232).
One of the three new judges elected at the 1916 General Election was Walter F. George, then 39 years old. He served from January 1, 1917, until October of that year. He returned to private practice and later had an illustrious national career which included 34 years as a leader in the United States Senate, followed by service as Special Representative of the President of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from January 5, 1957, until his death on August 4th of that year.
In 1960 (1960 Ga. Laws, p. 158) the number of judges was increased to seven. In the following year, the General Assembly by statute (1961 Ga. Laws, p. 140) added two more judges and decreed that the Court was to sit in three divisions of three judges each, one of which was to handle all criminal cases. The assignment of criminal cases to a single division was not eliminated until1967 (1967 Ga. Laws, p. 538).
Although remaining a court of nine judges until 1996, the bench became more diversified in 1984 with the appointment of the first woman, Dorothy Toth Beasley, and the appointment of the first African American judge, Robert Benham, who later was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court. Then in 1996, Governor Zell Miller's legislative package for that year included a bill to increase the number of judges on the Court of Appeals by four, bringing the number to thirteen. The Governor's plan was for the Court to serve in four divisions of three judges each and the Chief Judge to function as an administrative head of the Court and to assist each division. While the Governor was not successful in creating four additional judgeships for the Court, the Legislature did pass Senate Bill 750, which added a tenth judge.
That legislation also changed the process by which cases would be decided in the event of a dissent. Before the 1996 amendment (1996 Ga. Laws, p. 405), cases in which there was a dissent in one division were decided by the whole court. Now, cases involving a dissent are determined by seven judges, including the assigned division, the next division in succession and a seventh judge.
Governor Miller signed Senate Bill 750 into law on April 2, 1996, as Act No. 738. On July 16, 1996, Governor Miller swore-in Judge Frank M. Eldridge as the first ever tenth judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia and as the sixty-third judge in the Court's history.
Further, legislative efforts to increase the number of judges on the Court of Appeals of Georgia fell short in both 1997 and 1998. However, in 1999, the legislature passed Senate Bill 59 which was signed into law by Governor Roy Barnes. This bill increased the number of judges on the Court of Appeals from 10 to 12 and permitted the Court to sit in four divisions. Governor Barnes appointed that year, in order of seniority, M. Yvette Miller, formerly state court judge of Fulton County; John J. Ellington, formerly state court judge of Treutlen County and Herbert E. Phipps, formerly superior court judge in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit, as the three judges to fill an existing vacancy and the two newly created judgeships.
Laymen who do not understand the dedication and devotion of bench and bar to serving the cause of justice would have predicted difficulties in the directive that "[e]ach division shall hear and determine, independently of the others, the cases assigned to it." In actuality, there have been few problems in complying with this mandate. This is undoubtedly due to the quality of those who have served on the Court of Appeals. They have shown an exemplary respect for the Court as an institution. This was shown from the very origin of the Court in the case of Gainesville Midland Ry. v. Jackson, 1 Ga. App. 632. There, in an appeal upon a bill of exceptions signed by the trial judge on December 31, 1906, appellant argued absence of jurisdiction because the Judges elected in the November election did not take their oaths of office until January 2, 1907. In ruling against this contention, the opinion says, "Counsel for defendant in error has confounded the Judges with the court. The court when created became at once, upon the proclamation of the Governor, an integral part of the judicial department of the State, and it existed as such whether there were Judges thereof or not."
A unique relationship has existed between our two appellate courts during these ninety-six years, with many Justices of the Supreme Court having served previously on the Court of Appeals. For the convenience of the Bar, the two courts have consulted in making their rules, even while recognizing their independence to set their own rules. They have further recognized the need for each bench to determine its own internal operating procedures. Ninety-one individuals have served on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Seventy persons have served as members of the Court of Appeals. Fifteen people have served on both courts. Only one of the fifteen, Richard Brevard Russell, has served as Chief Justice and Chief Judge of both courts. One Judge, Benjamin Harvey Hill, served on the Court of Appeals at two different times.
Space limitations prevent paying proper homage to those whose dedicated service as Judges has made the Court of Appeals of Georgia a nationally respected institution. Indicative of the harmony which has always been a hallmark of this bench is the fact that before the position of Chief Judge was placed on a rotating basis in 1979, there had been only seven Chief Judges. Hill served for six years (1907-1913). His colleague, Russell, followed him for a period from October 13, 1913 until June 1916, when he resigned to return to the private practice of law. The third Chief Judge was Peyton L. Wade of Dublin, who became Judge in February 1914 and Chief Judge in 1916, serving three years in that capacity until his death on August 22, 1919. His successor was Nash R. Broyles, who had come to the bench in 1914 and was made Chief Judge in 1919. Broyles' tenure as Chief Judge was the longest; he served 28 years as Chief Judge until his death in 1947 at the age of 78. Following him was I. Homer Sutton, who served from April 10, 1947, until January 15, 1954. His successor as Chief Judge, Jule W. Felton, had the longest tenure of service as a Judge on the Court, a total of 32 years and eight months (three months longer than Broyles' total tenure). Felton came to this bench in 1937 and was named Chief Judge in 1954, occupying that position until 1969. John Sammons Bell was elected Chief Judge by his colleagues on September 5, 1969, after 10 years of service as Judge and Presiding Judge, and served 10 more years in this position.
Readers who desire to know details concerning the deceased Judges are referred to the index of memorials of Georgia's appellate judges through 1973, which may be found in 230 Georgia XXVII. Tributes to retired Judges, found in 150 Georgia Appeals et seq., provide details regarding those Judges who have retired from the Court since 1979. Confirmation that each served well is provided by the fact that never, during the entire existence of the Court, has a judgment been affirmed by operation of law because of failure to render a decision by the end of the term next after that at which a case was docketed. Court portraits and photographs of present and past members of the Court of Appeals now hang in the banc room and courtroom.
There have been only six persons who have served as Clerk of Court. The first was Logan Bleckley, son of the famed Chief Justice Logan E. Bleckley. He served from January 1, 1907, until his death in 1938. The second, William G. England, served from 1938 until his retirement in 1957. The third Clerk, Morgan Thomas, was connected with this Court longer than any other person. He served as Deputy Clerk to both predecessors from October 24, 1934, until December 1957, and as Clerk from that date until December 31, 1980. He was popularly and accurately designated as "The Court's Ambassador," and a tribute to him is found in 159 Georgia Appeals. The fourth Clerk, Alton Hawk, served from 1981 through 1986. The fifth Clerk, and the first and only female Clerk of the Court, was Victoria McLaughlin, who served from 1987 until December 31, 1993.
By January 1, 1994, the Court had recognized the need for a Court Administrator. On that date, William L. Martin, III, became the first Clerk and Court Administrator of the Court of Appeals of Georgia.
Space limitations also make it necessary to omit reference to noteworthy opinions. Suffice it to say that books containing compilations of decisions under such titles as "Wit and Wisdom in Court Opinions" always include reprints from the Court of Appeals of Georgia. (See also former Court of Appeals Judge H. Sol Clark's "Judicial Humor(?): A Personal Reminiscence," 20 Trial 68 et seq., Association of Trial Lawyers of America, June 1984).An extensive bibliography has been appended to this history to provide source material for those who are interested in further information about the history of this court.
"Upon the integrity, wisdom and independence of the judiciary depend the sacred rights of free men and women."
Georgia Official and Statistical Register, Department of Archives and History, State of Georgia.
Bell, R. C. - "A Case in the Court of Appeals," 44 Ga. Bar Association Reports 228 (1927).
Bloch, Charles J. - "The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of Georgia," 23 Ga. Bar Journal 523 (1961).
Bolton, Arthur K. - Unpublished address to 1975 Georgia Bench and Bar Conference in Savannah.
Grice, Warren - The Georgia Bench and Bar, J. W. Burke Co., 1931, Pages 372-383, Chapter 21: "The Establishment of the Court of Appeals; The Completion of the Structure."
Jordan, Robert H. - "A History of the Court of Appeals of Georgia," 24 Ga. Bar Journal 371 (Feb. 1962).
Pottle, J. R. - "Should There Be Two Courts of Last Resort in Georgia, and If So How Should They Be Related to Each Other?" 31 Ga. Bar Association Reports 216 (1914).
Powell, Arthur G. - I Can Go Home Again, University of N.C. Press, 1943, Chapter 37: "The Birth of the Court of Appeals of Georgia," 2 Georgia Review, (Summer 1948), Pages 144-156.
Stolz, Irwin W., Jr. - "Judicial Modernization: An Idea Whose Time Has Come." Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, 1972.
11 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1894 Meeting. "Report of Committee on Necessity of Relief for the Supreme Court," Page 197; "Do We Need More Judges on the Supreme Court?" Page 241.
12 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1895 Annual Meeting. Symposium on "Relief of the Supreme Court of Georgia: Is the Remedy One or More Intermediate Courts?" Pages 21-45, and two papers on the subject "Is the Remedy One or More Intermediate Courts?" Pages 164-176.
19 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1902 Annual Meeting. Pages 34-42 and paper by Justice Andrew J. Cobb entitled "The Judicial System of Georgia: Its Defects; What Changes Are Necessary to Bring About a More Harmonious and Orderly System and to Relieve the Supreme Court?" Pages 182-195; and "A Proposed Act Establishing District Courts of Appeals," by Judge Pope Barrow, Pages 196-203.
21 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1904 Annual Meeting, Pages 47-54, "Report of Committee on Court of Appeals."
22 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1905 Annual Meeting, Page 22.
23 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1906 Annual Meeting, Pages 34-52.
24 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1907 Annual Meeting, Pages 17-18.
32 Ga. Bar Association Reports - 1915 Annual Meeting, Pages 25-28.
Georgia Laws 1906, Pages 24-28.
Georgia Laws 1916, Pages 19-22 and 56-57.
Georgia Laws 1943, Pages 677-679.
Georgia Laws 1960, Pages 158-161 and 911-912.
Georgia Laws 1961, Pages 140-142.
Georgia Laws 1996, Page 405.
Message of the Governor of Georgia to the General Assembly, June 27, 1906.
Message of the Governor of Georgia to the General Assembly, June 26, 1907.
Senate Journal, 1906, Pages 290, 310, 337 and 354.
House Journal, 1906, Pages Unavailable.
Newspaper sources are the Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Georgian from July- August 1906 and January 1907.
A History of the Supreme Court of Georgia - A Centennial Volume (J. W. Burke Co., 1948).