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New Grant of Petition for Certiorari in a Civil Case

June 2, 2010

The Supreme Court of Georgia has granted one new petition for certiorari in a civil case the last week.  Details and a summary of the issues are below.

S10G0615. PROPST, ADMR., et al. v. MORGAN, ADMR.

This case involves administrators of two different estates.  Propst received a jury verdict in his favor and Morgan sought to appeal.  After the costs of appeal remained unpaid, the trial judge dismissed the notice of appeal.  Morgan appealed the dismissal of the notice of appeal, citing an earlier motion by Morgan to have the trial judge recused based on personal bias.

The Court of Appeals (Phipps, Smith, and Bernes) unanimously vacated the trial court order, and found the case should be returned to have the recusal motion decided by a different judge prior to determining whether the notice of appeal should have been dismissed.  The Court of Appeals explained the recusal standard, and part of the basis for the recusal motion was that Morgan had previously made a criminal investigation of the trial judge’s husband, resulting in a guilty plea.  The Court of Appeals determined that the actions taken by the judge are invalid if the motion to recuse was improperly entered.

The Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari on June 1, 2010 to review the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err by considering the underlying issue of recusal without first considering whether the appeal raising this issue was properly dismissed? See OCGA § 5-6-48 (c).

The case will be placed on the September 2010 oral argument calendar.

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