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Georgia Supreme Court

Nick Nesmith / WABE

Georgia's highest court has rejected a challenge to a program that provides tax exemptions in exchange for contributions to private school scholarships.

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A group of Fulton County taxpayers had sued the state Department of Revenue claiming the Qualified Education Tax Credit Program is unconstitutional because it can result in public tax funds going to private religious schools.

Exterior shots of the Georgia Supreme Court
Alison Guillory / WABE

Georgia's highest court on Monday rejected a challenge to a state law banning most abortions after 20 weeks, saying the courts are barred from considering lawsuits against the state without the state's consent.

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The 2012 law bans doctors from performing abortions five months after an egg is fertilized, except when a fetus has a defect so severe it is unlikely to live. The law also makes an exception to protect the life or health of the mother, but not for cases of rape or incest.

Nick Nesmith / WABE

Nine years after a teen allegedly killed a man who stopped to ask for directions, his murder conviction has been tossed because of a faulty search warrant.

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The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the conviction of Avery Leon Bryant, who was 17 when prosecutors say he shot Newton Gordon in East Point in 2008.

Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Georgia's highest court has handed a victory to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

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The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed today a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Atlanta taxi drivers and upheld a state law regulating and allowing the ride-hailing services.

Atlanta Takes Annexation Case To Georgia Supreme Court

Mar 20, 2017
Georgia Supreme Court building
Nick Nesmith / WABE

The city of Atlanta is going to the state Supreme Court to try to get back five neighborhoods it annexed from Fulton County.

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Last year, Georgia's General Assembly passed legislation to create the city of South Fulton. It included all of the last unincorporated areas in the county.

The law allowed areas that didn't want to be part of South Fulton to annex into another city, but it gave a time limit.


Georgia Supreme Court building
Nick Nesmith / WABE

A Georgia prison inmate who has served nearly 25 years of a sentence of life without parole will get a re-sentencing hearing, after acting as his own lawyer.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday morning that the case of Guy Philmore be resentenced. Philmore has been serving a sentence for stabbing a man to death in Glynn County in 1990.

In this March 25, 2016 photo, an Atlanta Police Rides-For-Hire Enforcement vehicle sits amid taxi cabs outside the departures area of the domestic terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
AP Photo/Jeff Martin


Georgia's Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a suit filed by taxi drivers who say they should be compensated for the state's changes to regulating their industry.

Last year, the state legislature passed a law to begin regulating ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. A group of five taxi drivers say that destroyed their exclusive right to operate vehicles for hire in Atlanta and the state should pay.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Georgia Supreme Court building
Nick Nesmith / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal is remodeling the states's judicial branch.

He named three new justices to the Supreme Court of Georgia Wednesday. Two of them come from a new law that expands the high court, starting in January.

Nels Peterson and Michael Boggs will be promoted from the Court of Appeals. Boggs also co-chairs the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. The governor's other pick is Solicitor General Britt Grant.

Exterior shots of the Georgia Supreme Court
Alison Guillory / WABE


The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that a South Dakota company violated Georgia's ban on payday lenders.

The court has ordered Western Sky Financial to pay more than $15 million. That's the amount prosecutors estimate the company collected from Georgians since the case started.

Liz Coyle heads Georgia Watch. It's a consumer advocacy organization that tipped the attorney general off about Western Sky.

Exterior shots of the Georgia Supreme Court
Alison Guillory / WABE

Out of hundreds of names and dozens of interviews, the Judicial Nominating Commission, which names potential state Supreme Court judges, has narrowed the list to 13.

Gov. Nathan Deal is set to appoint three new people to the court, but he isn't obligated to pick from the list, according to commission co-chair Randy Evans.

“Gov. Deal has been pretty consistent in that he selects judges from the Judicial Nominating Commission list,” Evans said.

Evans said the group worked to present a diverse list of potential justices.

Al Such / WABE

The Georgia Supreme Court Monday dismissed the city of Atlanta’s attempt to annex valuable property in part of unincorporated Fulton County.

In a unanimous decision, the court threw out the case, saying Atlanta didn’t pass a local annexation ordinance and that the court couldn’t rule on proposed legislation.

Precision 2000

Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

When former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears was being interviewed for a seat on Georgia’s highest court in 1992, she said her race and gender weren’t explicitly discussed. But as part of a short list of potential justices populated by other women, and a lawsuit pending against the state aimed over a lack of racial diversity in Georgia’s court system, Sears said it was clear then-Gov. Zell Miller was interested in diversifying the bench in one way or another.

Georgia's top judge plans to leave the state's highest court in early January.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugh Thompson, who is 73, announced his decision in a news release Tuesday. Gov. Nathan Deal will be responsible for appointing his replacement.

Thompson's four-year term as chief justice ends in August 2017.

But the court is expanding from seven to nine justices in January, and he said it makes sense for his replacement to start at the same time as the other two new justices.

Embattled DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis is led out of the courtroom after he was sentenced to 5 years to serve 18 months in prison Wednesday July 8, 2015.

The Supreme Court of Georgia is set to hear an appeal this Monday from DeKalb County's former chief executive officer.

Lawyers for Burrell Ellis say the justices should reverse his convictions because of errors during his trial. Ellis is convicted of perjury and an attempt to commit theft by extortion for pressuring a county contractor to donate to his campaign.

The justices will hear a long list of cases over the next two weeks.

Brenna Beech / WABE

As of Friday, July 1, Georgia has hundreds of new laws for everything from weapons on college campuses to the number of people serving on Georgia's Supreme Court. In fact, the vast majority of the bills the state Legislature passed this year and that Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law go into effect that day.

 WABE politics and government reporter Johnny Kauffman reviewed the highlights with WABE's Amy Kiley. He started by answering: Why July 1?  

Interview Highlights

* More than 300 laws take effect July 1.  

Exterior shots of the Georgia Supreme Court
Alison Guillory / WABE

A case before the Supreme Court of Georgia Tuesday asks whether online payday lenders can legally operate in the state.

Georgia law prohibits payday loans, which are small loans that typically have to be paid back within a short period – often at a great cost.

Nevertheless, three online companies, Western Sky Financial, Delbert Services and CashCall, provided these kinds of loans to Georgia residents. And they're now arguing the loans weren’t illegal because the companies were based out of state.

Exterior shots of the Georgia Supreme Court
Alison Guillory / WABE

Police officers throughout Georgia are not allowed to make traffic arrests while out of their jurisdiction.

The state Supreme Court made that decision Monday morning.

The decision from the Georgia Supreme Court is related to Zilke v. The State, a 2013 incident when a Kennesaw State University police officer arrested a man suspected of driving under the influence.

They were on Powder Springs Road in Kennesaw, more than 500-yards off campus. 

Georgia's Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of a Fulton County family who sued a dog kennel for alleged poor treatment of its pet.

In 2012, Robert and Elizabeth Monyak sued Barking Hound Village, claiming the kennel gave Lola, their dachshund mix, medication it had not been prescribed and then tried to cover it up.

The owners say the dog got sick and eventually died of kidney failure.

They sued for $67,000 – their expenses to try to cure the dog.

The kennel contended it owed only the "fair market value" of the mixed-breed dog.

Courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Gun rights group Georgia Carry can move forward with its lawsuit against the Atlanta Botanical Garden's policy that bans patrons with weapons.

A Fulton County Superior Court had dismissed the suit, saying there weren't enough allegations to take legal action.

But on Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously said that was the wrong decision.

The case will now go back to the Fulton County Superior Court, where the judge will have to rule on the merits of the claim and not just dismiss it for procedural reasons.

Georgia’s highest court Monday threw out the life-without-parole sentence of a man convicted of murder in a gang-related crime spree.

Robert Veal was found guilty in the 2010 murder of Charles Boyer, who was gunned down during a robbery in Virginia Highland. He was also found guilty of raping a Grant Park woman during another robbery, among other crimes. At the time, Veal was only 17 and a half years old – legally, a juvenile.

While the Supreme Court of Georgia didn't reverse Veal's guilty verdicts, it did toss his sentence.

Georgia's Supreme Court ruled Monday on Clark Atlanta University's lawsuit against Invest Atlanta, which planned to buy properties it now appears Morris Brown wasn't legally allowed to sell. 

Clark Atlanta University was right to sue. That's the state Supreme Court's decision on land Clark Atlanta deeded to Morris Brown College in 1940, stipulating the property be used for "educational purposes." 

Denis O'Hayer / WABE


 One of Georgia's Supreme Court justices has vivid memories of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  

David Nahmias clerked for Scalia in the early '90s.  

In a conversation in his chambers at the state Supreme Court, Nahmias remembered Scalia as a demanding, but kind boss, who -- for all the controversy surrounding him -- tried to get everything right.  

Speaking with Denis O'Hayer, Nahmias also reflected on the ways in which Scalia changed the Supreme Court's decision-making process, and he answered questions about his own future. 

A woman pleaded with the Georgia Supreme Court not to let the man accused of killing her mother go free because of a judge's mistake during his murder trial.

But the high court on Monday said a judge can't set a new trial for Geary Otis after having erroneously declared a mistrial in his case nearly two years ago. Otis is charged with murder in the slaying of 75-year-old Mary Oliver and aggravated assault in an attack on 71-year-old Emmanuel Surry.

Elly Yu / WABE

This week, the state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by some Georgia students who were brought to this country illegally, when they were children. They wanted to pay in-state rates for college tuition because they live here and have legal protection against deportation under the federal program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- often called DACA.   But the court found the Board of Regents has legal protection of its own -- a shield against lawsuits like this.  It's an old legal concept called sovereign immunity.

Elly Yu / WABE

This story has been updated at 1:15 p.m. to reflect new information. 

The state Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a group of immigrant students who were seeking in-state tuition at Georgia’s public colleges and universities. The students are young people who were brought to the country illegally as children.

The court rejected the students’ appeal, ruling that the university system’s Board of Regents is immune from the lawsuit under what’s known as “sovereign immunity,” a legal doctrine that protects state agencies from being sued.

Courtesy of the Supreme Court of Georgia

Georgia’s highest court could soon see major changes in how it operates. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugh Thompson told lawmakers Wednesday about the need for modernizing the court and changing some of its jurisdiction.

“This time next year, with your support, we will have put into place an historic shift in the types of cases handled by the Supreme Court of Georgia,” Thompson said in his State of the Judiciary address.

bullcitydogs /

What's the value of a family pet? 

That question is at the center of a case that will be argued before the Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday.

A Fulton County couple claims the kennel Barking Hound Village gave their dog medication that resulted in its death.

They want to be paid back for veterinary costs as well as emotional damages and sued the company for $67,000.

Barking Hound Village is appealing the case. It argues it should be responsible only for the market-value of the pet, which is "nominal," according to the kennel, since it was a mixed breed.

Georgia Supreme Court building
Nick Nesmith / WABE

A group of home care workers in Georgia have won a fight to get paid the state's minimum wage. In a ruling Monday, the state Supreme Court declared that in-home care providers who are hired by a third-party company are not exempt from minimum wage protections under state law.

In 2013, a group of in-home care providers in DeKalb County sued their employer, Southern Home Care Services, arguing the company wasn't paying them minimum wage after factoring in the hours they worked traveling to and from patients' homes.