Like any game, litigation in the courts has rules that the parties must follow during the proceedings. And also like games, there are consequences for not following those rules. In Georgia, the rules governing civil proceedings within the court system is called the “Civil Practice Act” and is found in the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated” or O.C.G.A. for short. Not only will you find the Civil Practice Act in the O.C.G.A., but you will also find that it is a complete compilation of all the laws in Georgia. It is also important to remember that this information is relevant to GEORGIA only. Every state has varying rules and laws imposed upon the citizen of its states including rules for civil court proceedings. For Georgia, the O.C.G.A. is published online through LexisNexis or you may also find printed book copies in your local law library.
The structure of the code is O.C.G.A. –> Titles –> Chapters –> Articles. This article is focused on the rules governing civil procedure, the Civil Practice Act which found under:
Title 9. Civil Practice –> Chapter 11. Civil Practice Act
When you are referring to a specific code section, you use can cite it using this structure O.C.G.A. § Title- Chapter. For example, if I wanted to cite the rule governing “Requests for Admission”, it is cited as under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-36 which is found under Title 9. Civil Practice –> Chapter 11. Civil Practice Act –> and item 36 under that Chapter. You will also see that under the Chapters, there are Articles, but for the sake of referencing a code section, you omit the Article part.
There are also local rules which certain jurisdictions may implement and they do not contradict O.C.G.A. but typically place some further restriction on how the court processes things or how the Judge prefers motions filed. It is important to check with your local court to find out if there are local rules that must be followed. For judges, these rules are called “Standing Orders”.
WARNING: Magistrate courts do not follow the Civil Practice Act.
Attorneys: Attorneys have professional and ethical rules they must follow when dealing with their own clients, when dealing with other attorneys, the courts, and when dealing with unrepresented parties. These rules are put in place by the State Bar of Georgia which is the organization that oversees attorneys practicing law in Georgia.
Pro Se: You don’t get any special treatment as a pro se litigating in court, so don’t expect to. Ignorance of the rules of litigation is no excuse for a pro se. The only leedway you might get it with your motion writing.
A pro se complaint should be construed more liberally than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Powell v. Lennon, 914 F.2d 1459, 1463 (11th Cir. 1990).
Judges: A judge is like a referee in the sense that he must over see the litigates playing the game and call the fouls as he sees them.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that they think they could just write a judge a letter about their case and all will be fine. T