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How long does it take to decide an appeal?

Visitors to the Court's website often want to know how long it will take for the Court to decide a particular matter. The answer to that question depends on what kind of matter it is.

Discretionary and Interlocutory Applications

With respect to discretionary applications, the Court is required by statute (OCGA § 5-6-35) to grant, deny or otherwise dispose of the application within 30 days of docketing. With interlocutory applications, the Court's ruling must be made within 45 days of docketing (OCGA § 5-6-34).

If either type of application is granted, the applicant is given 10 days from the date of the grant order to file a notice of appeal in the trial court where the case originated. The trial court clerk then prepares the record and bills the applicant for the cost of preparing the record for appeal. Once costs have been paid or the appellant is determined to be indigent, the record is transmitted to the Supreme Court for docketing and the parties will receive a docket notice with a new Supreme Court case number.

Direct Appeals

The Supreme Court dockets direct appeals 1 to one of three terms of Court - January, April or September. The Court is required to decide an appeal by no later than the end of the second term to which the appeal was docketed for hearing, or the decision of the lower court will be affirmed by operation of law. On average, most appeals are decided within 6-8 months of docketing.

Petitions for Certiorari

Each year the Court dockets approximately 500 petitions for certiorari to review decisions of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Although there is no statutory time requirement within which these petitions must be granted, denied or otherwise disposed of, most petitions are ruled on within 2-7 months of docketing. A granted petition for certiorari is subject to the two-term statutory requirement.

Post-Conviction Habeas Corpus Appeals

There is no statutory time requirement within which the Supreme Court must grant, deny, or otherwise dispose of a habeas corpus petition. Moreover, the Court will not rule on a petition until it has received a full and complete record from the trial court. Petitions remain pending in the Supreme Court anywhere from a few months to over a year. A granted habeas corpus petition is subject to the two-term statutory requirement.

Other Matters

The Supreme Court is called upon to rule on a variety of other types of matters, none of which is subject to the two-term statutory requirement. These include cases involving attorney discipline, judicial qualifications, Bar Examiner and Fitness Board appeals, emergency motions, original jurisdiction petitions, and State Bar Advisory opinions.

1A granted discretionary or interlocutory application is considered a direct appeal when docketed pursuant to a notice of appeal.