term of two years, and the same qualifications for this office apply as
do those for judges of the Supreme Court.
The _State Superintendent of Schools_ is elected at the time when the
Governor is elected, for a term of two years. He is charged with the
administration of the school laws. He has general superintendence of
the business relating to public schools. It is his duty to instruct
all officers under him as he thinks necessary for the better discharge
of their duties, and to inspect the various schools of the State. He
disburses the school fund according to the number of children between
the ages of six and eighteen years in each county.
He is the Secretary and Executive Agent of the State Board of Education.
With the consent and approval of the State Board of Education, he may
appoint three _State School Supervisors_ to act under his direction and
give normal instruction and training in each county; to grade, when
required, the papers of applicants for professional certificates; and
to aid him generally in supervising, systematizing, and improving the
schools of the State. He appoints, with the advice and consent of the
State Board of Education, an experienced _auditor_ to examine and
report on the accounts of all schools and colleges receiving State aid.
The State Superintendent of Schools is _ex-officio_ a member of the
State Board of Education, the State School-Book Commission, the State
Geological Board, the Board of Trustees of the State Normal School at
Athens, and the South Georgia Normal School at Valdosta.
The _Commissioner of Agriculture_ is elected by the people of the State
for a term of two years, at the same time that the governor is elected.
He has charge and control of the inspection and sale of all fertilizers
sold in the State. The law requires all manufacturers and dealers in
fertilizers in Georgia to first register all the brands to be sold.
The law authorizes the Commissioner to appoint six inspectors for a
term of one year each, and such other additional inspectors as may be
required, to be paid for the actual time they are in service. After
the samples are taken by these inspectors, they are forwarded to the
Commissioner, who turns them over to the State Chemist, he making an
analysis of the goods. If the analysis shows anything radically wrong,
the Commission takes it up with the fertilizer manufacturers who sold
the fertilizer, and the party who bought it.
The Commissioner of Agriculture is also charged with the inspection of
foods, drugs, feeding stuffs, and of all oils of illuminating quality
sold in the State. It is his duty to enforce the provisions of the
Pure Food and Drug Laws, and he appoints a food inspector and a drug
inspector. Both of these inspectors make their report to the
Commissioner, and all samples taken are sent to the State Chemist for
analysis. The Commissioner also has charge of the inspection of cattle
in Georgia to protect them against diseases of all kinds. This
department is called the _Bureau of Animal Inspection_, and is in the
charge of the _State Veterinarian_, with a corps of assistants, all of
whom are appointed by the Commissioner. This Bureau cooperates with
the United States Department of Agriculture in Tick Eradication and Hog
Cholera Contagion; and the general development of live stock industry.
The Commissioner of Agriculture also has charge of the horticultural
interests, peaches, apples, fruits, and vines, of all description.
Under the law he appoints an _entomologist_ who may visit all the
orchards and vineyards, and inspect them for the purpose of keeping
down all diseases affecting the fruit in Georgia. In a general way the
Commissioner of Agriculture is expected to look after the common good
of the State connected with the varied farming interests.
By virtue of his office, the Commissioner of Agriculture is
_ex-officio_ a member of the board of Trustees of the State Board of
Agriculture, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia
Experiment Station, and also Chairman of the State Board of Entomology.
The _State Chemist_ is in charge of the laboratory in connection with
the Department of Agriculture. He is appointed by the Commissioner of
Agriculture, and his assistants are also appointed by the Commissioner
on the recommendation of the State Chemist.
A _State Geologist_ is appointed by the Governor, who holds his office
during good conduct. He is removable by the Governor for inefficiency
or misconduct. It is his duty to make a geological, mineralogical, and
physical survey of the State; to make records of the survey; to make a
record of the general physical characteristics of the different
counties; to locate the deposits of mineral ores and phosphates,
collect and classify specimens and preserve them in a museum.
The _State Game and Fish Commissioners_ appointed by the Governor for a
term of two years. It is his duty to see that all laws for the
protection of game animals, game birds, and fish in the State are
observed and enforced. He appoints game and fish wardens and deputy
wardens in each county of the State to assist him in enforcing the
laws, and in issuing licenses to proper persons to hunt and fish in the
open season, in accordance with certain restrictions and regulations.
The _State Tax Commissioner_ is appointed by the Governor, with the
approval of the Senate, for a term of six years. His office is at the
State Capitol in connection with the Comptroller-General. He acts as
assistant to the Comptroller-General. He investigates all matters
relative to taxation, and makes recommendations to the General
Assembly, as to any alterations or changes that may bring about a more
perfect and equitable system of taxation. It is his duty to examine
carefully and compare the tax digests of the several counties of the
State, to the end that property located in different counties may bear
its equitable burden of taxation.
The _Adjutant General_ is appointed by the Governor for the term of the
Governor's tenure. He is at the head of the Military Department of the
State, subordinate only to the Governor as Commander in Chief of the
military forces of the State. He is custodian of all militia records
and of all State and United States Military Equipment in the State. He
renders an annual report to the Governor of the condition of the
militia and accounts for all moneys received and disbursed for military
purposes. He issues all orders relative to carrying into execution and
perfecting the military establishment under the laws of the State and
the United States.
The _Commissioner of Commerce and Labor_ is elected at the same time
and in the same manner as the Governor and the State House Officers for
a term of two years. He is aided by an assistant commissioner and
chief clerk. His duties are to provide for the collection and
dissemination of authentic statistics pertaining to the various
industries and resources of the State; also to collect data relative to
the condition and welfare of laboring people and such other statistics
concerning the industrial welfare of the citizens of the State as he
may deem of interest and benefit to the public: He is especially
required to investigate the operation and enforcement of various laws
relative to the employment of child labor and of women. He may act as
a mediator between employers and employees in the case of strikes, and
tender his good offices to the opposing parties with a view to bringing
about friendly and satisfactory adjustments. He makes a full report to
the Governor, with such recommendations as may be likely to promote the
efficiency of his Department.
The _Railroad Commission_ consists of five members, one or two being
elected every second year, for a term of six years. It is the duty of
the Commission to protect the people from excessive passenger or
freight rates on the various railroads operating in the State, and to
prevent unjust discrimination. The Commissioners have the power to
examine the books of any railroad company, to examine its officers and
agents as to their methods of conducting the business of the road, and
to examine the road to see that it is not in an unsafe and dangerous
condition, and when any part is found to be unsafe, to require the
company to put it in such condition as will render travel safe and
The Commission also has a similar control over street railroads,
wharves, docks, gas, electric light and power, terminal, express,
telephone, telegraph, and cotton compress companies. The Commission is
called upon to consider, hear, and adjust multitudes of differences and
complaints that arise in reference to services, rates, and practices of
more than two hundred public service corporations that are within its
supervisory and regulatory jurisdiction.
Each of the companies, or corporations, over which the Railroad
Commission has authority, before issuing stocks, bonds, notes, or other
evidence of debt payable more than twelve months after the date
thereof, must secure the approval and authority of the Commission; also
they must show the purpose and use for which such issues are authorized.
The _Prison Commission_ consists of three Commissioners elected by the
people for a term of six years. The Commissioners elect one of their
number chairman. All convicts, all convict camps, and the State Farm
are under the direct supervision of the Prison Commission, which
provides rules and regulations, subject to the approval of the
Governor, for their management, discipline, and sanitation. Some
member of the Prison Commission makes personal visits to the various
convict camps of the State every six months and makes a thorough
inspection of every detail of management, plan of operation,
sanitation, and treatment of the convicts. The Commission apportions
the convicts to the various counties desiring to use convict labor on
the public roads.
The Prison Commission hears applications for pardons and makes
recommendations for executive clemency to the Governor, but he may
reject their advice.
JUDICIAL SYSTEM. - The judicial branch of our State government is vested
in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, superior courts, county,
and city courts, courts of ordinary, justice courts, and courts
recently established in certain cities in lieu of justice courts.
The difference in the courts consists of their varied jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine cases. Two questions
are usually involved in determining the jurisdiction of a court.
First, the residence of the defendant, and, second, the amount involved
and the subject matter of the litigation. The jurisdiction of a court
is usually limited to a particular territory, and, with the exception
of the superior courts, it is limited as to the character of the
In each militia district of every county of the State, except in
certain cities, there is a _justice court_. This court was established
for the trial of cases involving small amounts, and for the preliminary
trials of persons charged with offenses against the laws of the State.
The justice is elected for a term of four years by the voters of the
county. To be eligible for this office one must have been a resident
of the district for three months, and such other qualifications apply
as do to voters for members of the General Assembly. This court holds
its sessions monthly.
Upon the recommendation of the grand jury of the county, a _notary
public_ and _ex-officio justice of the peace_ may be appointed by the
judge of the superior court and commissioned by the Governor. His
powers are the same as a regularly elected justice, and his term of
office is for the same number of years.
The jurisdiction of the court extends to all cases arising from
contracts, or injuries, or damages to personal property, when the
amount claimed does not exceed $100. Contests for the possession of
personal property, when the title is not involved, may also be tried in
justice courts. When the amount involved is less than $50 an appeal
may be had to a jury of five men; if the amount exceeds $50, an appeal
may be had to the superior court.
Upon the arrest of any person charged with any offense against the laws
of the State he can be brought before the justice of the peace for a
preliminary trial. If in the opinion of the justice there is
sufficient evidence, he is bound over to a higher court for trial.
The justice of the peace can issue warrants for the arrest of persons
charged with crimes, and is qualified to administer oaths. The
executive officer of the justice court is the _constable_, who is
elected by the people for a term of two years. He serves subpoenas,
levies executions, conducts the sales of the court, and makes arrests.
In 1912, the provisions of the Constitution recommending the
establishment of justice courts in each militia district were amended
so as to allow such justice courts, the office of justice of the peace,
and of notary public, _ex-officio_ justice of the peace, to be
abolished in certain cities in Georgia by the establishment in lieu
thereof of such court, or system of courts, as the General Assembly may
deem necessary. Such courts have been established in Atlanta and
Macon. The territory, jurisdiction, and power of these courts are set
forth in the act creating them.
A _county court_ is established upon the recommendation of a grand jury
in a county. The judge of the court is appointed by the Governor for a
term of four years. The judge of a county court must be twenty-one
years of age, and must have been a resident of the county one year.
The court holds monthly and quarterly sessions at the county seat. The
jurisdiction of the court extends over the county where it is located.
The court has jurisdiction in all civil cases where the amount involved
does not exceed $500, save where exclusive jurisdiction is given to the
superior courts. Criminal cases are also tried in county courts when
the crime with which the defendant is charged is called a misdemeanor.
In some counties also there are county courts established by special
acts of the Legislature.
Many _city courts_ have been established by the Legislature. The judge
of a city court is appointed by the Governor, or elected by the people,
according to the provisions of the act establishing the court. The
term and the qualifications of the judge, and the jurisdiction of the
city court, are also fixed by the legislative act creating the court.
The term is sometimes four years and sometimes two.
The _solicitor_ of the city court is appointed by the Governor, or
elected by the people, for a term of two or four years. It is his duty
to represent the State in all criminal cases tried in that court.
There is in each county of the State a _court of ordinary_. The
presiding officer of this court is styled the _ordinary_. He is
elected by the voters of the county for a term of four years. The
jurisdiction of the court of ordinary extends throughout the county
over all matters relating to the administration of property of deceased
persons, orphans, idiots, lunatics, and insane persons. In the
ordinary is vested the power of appointing guardians of the person of
orphans and insane persons. The ordinary also has charge of county
roads and revenues where no board of county commissioners has been
established. The ordinary is clerk of his own court, and the sheriff
of the county is his executive officer.
The State is divided into twenty-six _judicial circuits_, and each
circuit has one _superior court judge_ (or mote than one if the
Legislature so provides). This judge is elected by the people for a
term of four years. To be eligible he must be thirty years of age; he
must have been a citizen of the State for three years, and must have
practiced law seven years.
The _superior courts_ have original and appellate jurisdiction.
Actions may be begun in this court, and actions may be appealed to this
court. The original jurisdiction of this court extends exclusively
over all suits for divorce, suits where titles to land are involved,
cases in equity, and criminal cases where the person is accused of a
crime the punishment for which is loss of life or imprisonment in the
penitentiary. Offenses of a lesser grade are called misdemeanors. The
court has jurisdiction over all civil cases. The _judge_ of the
superior court has the power to issue various writs for the enforcement
of the law, and grant charters to all corporations, except banking,
insurance, railroad, canal, navigation, express, telephone, and
telegraph companies. Cases appealed from justice courts, county
courts, courts of ordinary, and certain city courts lie to the superior
The _clerk_ of the Superior court is elected by the people for a term
of two years. He has custody of all court papers, records, liens,
deeds, mortgages, and other conveyances, issues executions, subpoenas,
commissions to take interrogatories, and other writs with the authority
of the court. He also has the power to administer oaths.
The _sheriff_ of the county is properly a county officer, but his
duties are closely allied with the superior court. He is elected by
the people for a term of two years. It is his duty to execute all
orders of the court, attend in person or by deputy all its sessions,
keep a record of all sales and executions, publish advertisements of
sales, and conduct sales at the county seat. He levies executions,
serves warrants, and executes all the writs of the judge of the
superior court. The sheriff may appoint deputies to assist him in the
performance of his duties.
The _solicitor-general_ is elected by the people for a term of four
years. He must have been three years a citizen of the State, he must
be twenty-five years of age, and must have practiced law three years.
He is the solicitor of the whole circuit, and is not a county officer.
He advises the grand jury, examines witnesses before that body, and
draws up all indictments and presentments. It is his duty to prosecute
or defend any civil action in his circuit in which the State is
interested, collect moneys arising from fines and forfeited bonds, and
all claims of the State, as ordered by the Comptroller-General. He
represents the State in all criminal actions in the superior court, of
which he is the solicitor, and in the Court of Appeals or the Supreme
Court in cases appealed from his circuit.
The _Court of Appeals_ consists of three judges, elected one every
second year for a term of six years. The _Supreme Court_ consists of a
chief justice and five associate justices. They are elected two every
second year for a term of six years. A judge of the Court of Appeals
or a justice of the Supreme Court must be thirty years of age, must
have been a resident of the State three years, and must have practiced
law seven years.
The Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction in cases appealed from
certain city courts, and in criminal cases, not capital, appealed from
the superior courts. The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction in
civil cases appealed from the superior courts, and in all cases of
conviction of capital crime. The Supreme Court also settles any
question as to the meaning of the Constitution, and as to the
constitutionality of a State law. It is the highest judicial authority
in the State.
COUNTIES. - The State is divided into one hundred and forty-eight
counties, and each county into militia districts, according to its size
and population. Every militia district in the State must contain at
the time of its organization at least one hundred male residents over
twenty-one years of age who are subject to militia duty, and no militia
district can be reduced in population below this requirement by the
formation of a new one. While no additional counties can be created in
the State except by a constitutional amendment, one may be abolished or
merged into adjoining counties by a two-thirds majority of the voters
of the county.
Each county in the State has an organized government, with powers
delegated to it by the State government. These powers are largely
administrative, and have for their chief purpose the enforcement of
general laws. Each county is a body corporate, with the power to sue
or be sued in any court, make contracts, and buy and sell real estate.
Its debt cannot exceed seven per cent of the assessed valuation of the
ORDINARY. - The office of ordinary is the most important in the county.
He is the principal administrative officer in the county. When sitting
for county purposes he has exclusive jurisdiction in directing and
controlling all county property and in levying general and special
taxes. He has control over all roads and bridges, establishes and
alters election precincts and militia districts, appoints officers to
fill all vacancies in the county. He audits the accounts of all county
officers, makes rules and regulations for the relief of the poor. He
issues marriage licenses, pays pensions to Confederate veterans,
licenses and regulates peddling, and collects special taxes assessed by
the State. He is elected for a term of four years.
He is both a judicial and an administrative officer. His judicial
duties have been explained.
A part of his administrative duties as to roads and revenues is
performed in some counties by a board of county commissioners.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS. - A board of county commissioners may be created
by the General Assembly to administer the executive powers of the
ordinary. The powers of the commissioners differ in the various
counties, and their duties are prescribed by the act creating them.
They are called commissioners of roads and revenues. When county
commissioners are provided for by legislative enactment the ordinary
ceases to perform the duties given to the commissioners.
JURY COMMISSIONERS. - The board of jury commissioners is composed of six
members, who are appointed by the judge of the superior court for a
term of six years. Two members are appointed every second year.
This body meets in August, biennially, to revise the jury list. It
selects from the books of the tax receiver "upright and intelligent
men" to serve as jurors. The most intelligent and experienced are
selected for the grand jury. The name of each person subject to serve
on the jury is written on a separate slip of paper and placed in the
"jury box." At each term of the superior court the judge draws out of
this box from eighteen to thirty names, from which the grand jury is
impaneled. In the same manner thirty-six names are drawn for the petit
_Grand Jury_. - The grand jury consists of not less than eighteen nor
more than twenty-three members. A foreman is elected by the jury. It
is their duty to indict or present for trial all persons who from their
own knowledge, or from evidence brought before them, are charged with
an offense against the laws, and against whom sufficient evidence is
produced to sustain the charge. It is also their duty to inspect the
books and accounts of all county officers, examine the tax receiver's
digest, and inquire into the condition and management of the county
roads, jails, and schoolhouses. It advises the ordinary in the
administration of the county tax, determines the salary of the county
judge, jurors, and bailiffs, and appoints the members of the board of
_County Treasurer_. - All revenue paid into the county arising from
taxes, and all other sources, is paid to the county treasurer, who
disburses it only upon warrants issued by the ordinary or board of
_Tax Receiver_. - It is the duty of the tax receiver to secure from
each taxpayer, under oath, a statement of the character and amount
of his taxable property. Three digests are prepared from the full
returns made to the tax receiver, who must furnish one to the
Comptroller-General, the tax collector, and the ordinary.
_Tax Collector_. - It is the duty of the tax collector to collect all
taxes due the State and county, and to pay the same over to the
Comptroller-General and County Treasurer, the portion due the State
going to the Comptroller-General. He is to search out and ascertain as
far as possible all poll and professional taxes due and unpaid, and all
taxable property not found in the digest, and to assess the same and
collect thereon a double tax. He also issues against all defaulters,
executions, which are placed with the proper officials for collection.