A few years we started a project to create a series of short articles explaining the court system and the criminal justice system in Cobb County. We only finished writing the Magistrate Court page, but the court systems play such a critical role in the life of the county, we’re taking the project up again.
This article deals with the county’s State Court.
What is the State Court?
The State Courts were defined under the 1983 Constitution of Georgia.
They are one of Georgia’s trial courts (which also include Superior Courts, and Probate Courts). Trial courts conduct jury trials, appeals courts and other non-trial courts like Magistrate Court do not.
What does the State Court do?
The Cobb County State Court page lists the following jurisdictions of the court:
- Criminal Cases: The trial of criminal cases below the grade of felony.
- Civil Cases: The trial of civil cases without regard to the amount in controversy, except those actions in which exclusive jurisdiction is vested in the superior courts; such as divorce cases, cases involving title to land and cases involving equity issues.
- Warrants: The hearing of applications for and the issuance of arrest and search warrants.
- Inquiry: Holding of courts of inquiry.
- Contempt: The punishment of contempt by fine not exceeding $500.00 or by imprisonment not exceeding 20 days, or both.
- Review: A review of the decisions of other courts may be provided by law.
Put simply, the State Court handles misdemeanors, including traffic cases, and most civil cases.
Businesses and individuals can also ask for a jury trial in State Court on things like code violations that would normally be handled with a judge’s ruling in Magistrate Court.
One relatively high-profile case of that sort in Cobb County happened in March of 2019, when the owners of three Riverside Parkway apartment complexes decided to avoid a judge’s ruling on a large list of code violations by asking for a jury trial
Another thing the State Court does is manage an accountability court called the DUI Court, described on the county website as follows:
DUI Court is a voluntary, post-conviction, treatment-based program for those who have been convicted multiple times for driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. The DUI Court program offers enhanced supervision, counseling, and treatment to help participants function in the community with continuing support. The program lasts a minimum of 12 months; however, most participants will require more than 12 months to complete the program, so a sentence of at least 24 months is mandatory.
Who manages the Cobb State Court?
Cobb’s State Court Chief Judge is Carl W. Bowers.
The county website has the following biography of Judge Bowers:
Judge Carl W. Bowers was appointed to the Cobb State Court bench in October 2005. Judge Bowers has previously served as a full-time Magistrate Judge, as an Assistant Solicitor-General in Cobb State Court, and as a law clerk in Cobb Superior Court. Judge Bowers has also spent five years in the private practice of law. He has four sons. Judge Bowers attended the University of Georgia, obtaining two degrees, including his law degree in 1989.