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This Week at the Court

September 24, 2014

On Monday, in addition to releasing opinions, the Supreme Court of Georgia heard argument in two cases within the scope of coverage (one of the cases involved a number of cross-appeals). Summaries of the cases argued are below. The Court’s next date for oral argument is October 6, 2014.

S14A1033 Sentinel Offender Services, LLC v. Glover

This case relates to the operation of private probation companies in Georgia. Nearly 80 courts in Georgia contract with Sentinel and other companies to supervise defendants on probation for misdemeanors. The private probation services charge monthly probation supervision fees, which individuals on probation are ordered to pay. This case began when a number of plaintiffs sued to recover the fees they paid, alleging that the private companies did not have contracts with the courts, making the payments illegal, and exceeded their authority by requiring probationers to wear electronic monitoring devices, among other claims. The plaintiffs also sought class action status.

The trial court found that private probation did not violate the constitution, but it granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs, enjoining Sentinel from requiring electronic monitoring or taking any action regarding a probationer after the date their original sentence expired. The judge also found that, because of a mutual mistake in securing approval of a contract, the plaintiffs could only recover fees paid after the expiration of their original sentence. Both sides appealed.

The case was heard on September 22, 2014.

S14A1049 Newton County et al. v. East Georgia Land and Development Co., L.L.C.

This case is the third appearance of a challenge to a zoning ordinance in Newton County governing construction of a landfill. In 1997, a developer attempted to construct a landfill in the County and the county refused, citing a 1985 ordinance. After litigation two Supreme Court rulings on the status of the lost original zoning ordinance, the case proceeded.

After the second appeal, the trial court granted the request for a writ of mandamus in November 2013, requiring the county to issue the letter allowing the construction of the landfill because the maps referred to in the 1985 ordinance were not present when it was enacted, making the ordinance void. The county appealed.

The case was heard on September 22, 2014.

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