Georgia Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Winter 2003), pp. 697-721


The Supreme Court of Georgia enjoys legendary status in perpetuating both "law" and "justice" for the citizens it serves. It functions as an institution of rich tradition, and it operates from a perspective of historic proportions. The court's heritage exudes a profusion of shaping facets, facets coalescing to yield an indelible profiles of Georgia's juristic content. That profile reflects such characteristics as the court's authoritative underpinnings: the legends of judicial fame to whom the court periodically returns for lessons of wisdom. Other distinctions focus upon the court's output: the per curiam opinion, for example, constitutes an expressive peculiarity of historical intrigue. Finally, the catalyst of dissent looms large in supreme court chronology: since the mid-twentieth century, in particular, Georgia justices expend considerable time and effort in decisional disputes. These and a myriad of other foundational features reveal in stark relief the fountainhead of Georgia's judicial system. The supreme court's most public performance comes, of course, in deciding the cases which appear before it. With the constitution largely mandating its decisional agenda, the court possesses little institutional control over the volume of its workload. Over time, however, practice has presented the court with at least two potential opportunities for easing its burden. First, under its adopted "Rule 59," the court may on occasion affirm without opinion the lower court's judgment in a civil case. Second, under the constitution, the court may on occasion determine whether to review by certiorari cases from the court of appeals. The exceptional nature of these instances prompts inquiry into their utilization by the court to lighten its load. An account of that utilization offers yet another means for measuring the manner in which the Georgia Supreme Court perpetuates both "law" and "justice."

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