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Forthcoming Opinions

March 1, 2013

On Monday, March 4, 2013, the Supreme Court will release opinions in 17 cases, three of which are within the scope of our coverage. Brief summaries of the cases are below and we will update on Monday morning with summaries of and links to the opinions.

S12G1049. IN THE INTEREST OF W.L.H., A CHILD

Although this is an appeal from a deprivation case, the issues involved focus on the ability of a minor to prosecute appeals in civil courts in Georgia. During a deprivation hearing, W.L.H., a 12-year old, requested to have access to the proceedings after a judge determined he would remain outside during the presentation of evidence. The judge denied the motion and excluded the child, and the child attempted to appeal.

The Court of Appeals (Adams, Barnes, Blackwell) unanimously dismissed the appeal, finding that a minor has no standing to appeal without the aid of a guardian or next friend. While recognizing exceptions in criminal and delinquency cases, the Court of Appeals analogized to prosecution of civil actions, which require a guardian to act on his behalf.

On May 29, 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously granted the petition for certiorari to consider the following issue:

  1. Does a child in a deprivation action have standing to appeal when the child is represented by counsel and the child’s guardian ad litem chooses not to appeal?

The case was heard on October 1, 2012.

S12A1513 Hunt v. Richmond County Board of Education

This case involves the proper treatment of funds awarded as part of a judgment. Hunt was a teacher in the 2008-2009 school year at a fixed contractual rate with the school system. Hunt was paid only $38,109 out of her $61,275 contract. She sued and won a judgment for the remaining $23,166. The school system then issued checks, but withheld taxes on the amount. Hunt’s attorney refused to accept the checks, and the school system sought an injunction to prevent Hunt from levying upon the judgment. The trial court ruled that the school system properly withheld taxes from the amount as wages and Hunt appealed.

The case was heard on September 11, 2012.

S12A1836 Homewood Village, LLC v. Unified Government of Athens-Clark Co.S12X1837 Unified Government of Athens-Clarke Co. v. Homewood Village, LLC

This case involves the constitutionality of a stormwater service fee imposed by a local government. In 2004, Athens-Clarke County adopted an ordinance imposing a fee to be assessed against all properties in the jurisdiction to fund a new stormwater utility. A shopping center called Homewood Village was sent bills but did not pay those from the imposition of the program through 2010. In 2010, the jurisdiction sued Homewood Village to recover payments of the stormwater fees, late fees, and the cost of litigation. Homewood Village defended on the grounds that there was no contract and Homewood Village never requested or accepted the stormwater services. The trial court ruled in favor of the jurisdiction, finding the ordinance imposed a fee and not an unconstitutional tax, and Homewood Village appealed.

The case was heard at oral argument on November 6, 2012.

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