Opinions header text

One of the duties of the Attorney General is to give his legal opinion, when required to do so by the Governor, on any question of law connected with the interest of the state or with the duties of any of the departments. O.C.G.A. § 45-15-3(1). However, to avoid having the Governor endorse all requests for opinions originating within the departments of the state, the Attorney General receives requests for opinions directly from the heads of the executive departments.

The Attorney General will also provide opinions to other state officers, such as legislators, judges or district attorneys. The Attorney General does not generally provide legal advice, opinions or representation to county or municipal governments or officials, but will on request review the written legal opinions and conclusions of counsel for local governments.

Opinions issued to the Governor and the heads of the executive departments are classified as "Official Opinions." Those issued to other state officers (such as legislators, judges or district attorneys) are classified as "Unofficial Opinions." Additionally, from time to time the Attorney General will approve interstate compacts or issue position papers on questions of state law. Those documents are published along with the opinions of the Attorney General.

This presentation of the opinions of the Georgia Attorney General is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice to the general public. From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete.


Opinion In Reference To
2002-1 The reimbursement provisions of O.C.G.A. § 42-5-51(c) do not apply to probationers awaiting transfer to probation detention centers or probation diversion centers.

The additional eligibility requirements applicable to the office of judge of the probate court in counties having a population of 96,000 persons or more according to the most recent decennial census apply to all candidates for the office, including incumbents, as of the first election following the effective date of the applicable census except for those incumbents who held the office on July 1, 1994, and remained continually in office; these, and only these, incumbents are “grandfathered in” and may continue in office and seek reelection so long as they are otherwise qualified.

2002-2 O.C.G.A. § 20-2-506(b)(4) is not applicable to that certain contract dated July 1, 1997, between the City of Dalton and The City of Dalton Building Authority with respect to the currently outstanding $15,000,000 The City of Dalton Building Authority Revenue Bonds (Dalton Public School System Project), Series 1997.

The General Assembly's direct legislative command that an individual appointed to fill a newly created superior court judgeship shall receive the same salary supplement provided for the other judges of the circuit cannot be varied by a county ordinance or resolution.

2001-11 Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints
2001-10 The Department of Transportation may enter into transportation construction contracts with all or a portion of the financial backing for the contracts coming from a contractual promise from the State Road and Tollway Authority to borrow and provide money to DOT as and when needed to expend on projects that are the subjects of the construction contracts.
2001-4 County jail inmates generally may not be utilized to clean graffiti from private property unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the use of such inmates for this purpose confers a substantial public benefit.
2001-9 Interpretation of the Charter Schools Act amendment relating to state charter schools
2001-8 Agencies under the authority, direction, or control of a state-wide elected official other than the Governor may set their own technology policy but must contract through the Georgia Technology Authority for any technology resource purchase exceeding $100,000 pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-25-7.2(a).
2001-7 The Used Motor Vehicle Dealers' and Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers' Registration Act allows the Used Motor Vehicle Dealers and Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers Board to regulate a franchise dealership, who is selling used cars at a temporary location in a county other than the county where the franchise dealership is located.
2001-6 The Board of Technical and Adult Education cannot, without approval of the Employee Benefit Plan Council, extend to all departmental employees the benefit options allowed for former employees of local boards of education or the area postsecondary technical education boards under O.C.G.A. § 20-4-29.
2001-3 Miscellaneous questions regarding residency requirements for the General Assembly in light of reapportionment
2001-5 Powers of the State Board of Education and the State School Superintendent
2001-4 Campaign contributions prior to January 1, 2001, should not be counted against the new election cycle contribution limits set forth in the revised version of O.C.G.A. § 21-5-41, which became effective on that date.

In a traffic misdemeanor case where a probate judge either has not requested the assistance of the district attorney or has requested assistance but the district attorney has refused, the county governing authority would be free to provide an attorney to prosecute the case unless otherwise provided by local law.  In a case under the jurisdiction of a probate court other than a misdemeanor traffic case, the county governing authority would also be free to provide an attorney to prosecute the case unless otherwise provided by local law.

2001-3 Interest earned on educational purpose sales taxes and on special county one percent sales and use taxes is required to be used exclusively for the purpose or purposes specified in the resolution or ordinance calling for imposition of the respective tax.
2001-2 A member of the Judicial Retirement System who ceases to hold any office or position entitled to coverage in the system is vested with the right to spouses benefits if he or she has made employee contributions for such benefits for a minimum of ten years; however, the right to disability retirement benefits is conditioned upon the disability occurring while the individual is actively holding a position or office covered by the system.
2001-1 There is no legal impediment to a University System institutions allowing a student, upon the students request, to satisfy an internship requirement at a sectarian facility which by policy limits staff and internship employment to persons of its particular religious faith or persuasion, and that disallowance would be in violation of the students First Amendment rights where the permission is denied solely because of the facilitys religious character and exclusivity policies.

A citizen who served as a firefighter and was a member of the Firefighters' Pension Fund from 1971 through 1984 and then resumed service as a firefighter and applied for reinstatement to the fund in 1992 is not eligible to receive pension credit pursuant to O.C.G.A.§ 47-7-87 for his years as a firefighter prior to his break in service.

2000-11 Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.
2000-9 Neither O.C.G.A. § 20-2-145 nor O.C.G.A. § 50-3-4.1 on its face violates the separation of church and state provisions of either the Georgia or the United States Constitution.
2000-12 Georgia counties may enact ordinances regarding enforcement of traffic control devices by the use of cameras. Such cameras may be erected at intersections of roads within the state highway system, provided their placement is approved by the Department of Transportation.
2000-10 Under O.C.G.A. § 43-34-103(e.1), physicians assistants are allowed to prescribe Schedule III, IV, and V controlled substances when acting under the requisite supervision of a physician and pursuant to the requisite job description.

Mobile homes, synonymously referred to as manufactured homes, are subject to the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act and owners of manufactured homes are required to obtain a motor vehicle certificate of title.  Further, in order for liens or security interests in manufactured homes to be valid against subsequent creditors of the owner, subsequent transferees and subsequent holders of security interests and liens, the lien or security interest must be perfected in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act.

2000-11 In order for a search warrant or an arrest warrant to be valid, it must be signed by a magistrate who is authorized to hold a court of inquiry under O.C.G.A. § 17-7-20 and who is physically present in the county in which he or she serves.
2000-10 Disclosure of a public officers direct ownership interest in a tract of real property is required pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 21-5-50(b)(4) where the net fair market value of the interest exceeds $20,000.00 as of December 31 of a covered year, regardless of where the real property is located.
2000-9 A senior superior court judge, who is not being appointed in his senior judge capacity pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-1-9.1, may be appointed to serve as a part-time state-funded juvenile court judge and, so long as the hours worked annually do not exceed 1040 hours, there is no effect on the senior judges retirement.
2000-8 Several questions regarding rights under the Superior Court Judges Retirement System and under the appellate judges option of the Employees' Retirement System.

Municipalities are not prohibited by Georgia's Constitution or laws from enacting ordinances regarding enforcement of traffic control devices by the use of cameras.

2000-7 Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 35-2-12 may constitutionally be enforced to prohibit employees of the Department of Public Safety from contributing any money or any other thing of value to any person, organization, or committee for political campaign or election in county or state primaries or general elections.
2000-6 The use of a blind trust does not limit the information required to be disclosed in a public officers financial disclosure statement, and a public officer must disclose the individual assets and interests held in a blind trust to the extent they are otherwise subject to the provisions of the Georgia Ethics in Government Act.
2000-5 The Georgia Constitution prohibits grants to sectarian institutions for the purpose of the Reading Challenge Program.
2000-4 The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act preempts the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 33-3-23 restricting lending institutions, bank holding companies, and their subsidiaries and affiliates from selling insurance in municipalities with populations exceeding 5,000.
2000-6 A candidate for the position of local director of emergency management who has been convicted of a felony and fully pardoned is not eligible to hold that position under O.C.G.A. § 38-3-27(a)(2)(B).
2000-5 County criminal and traffic ordinance violations are covered by the Peace Officer and Prosecutor Training Fund Act of 1983, O.C.G.A. § 15-21-70 et seq.
2000-4 The billing and payment records of public employees and officials to a municipally owned and operated public utility system are subject to disclosure under the Georgia Open Records Act, barring the proper application of any exception. Additionally, any special treatment of those public officials by such utilities may need to be disclosed under the Ethics in Government Act and the failure to do so could subject the recipients to legal action.
2000-3 Local legislation is not necessary to establish a juvenile court for Liberty County alone, but the powers of the juvenile court cannot be restricted to only that county.
2000-2 The Governor's power to veto individual appropriations does not include the power to reduce an appropriation.
2000-1 Under the Georgia Electronic Records and Signatures Act, departments, agencies, authorities, and instrumentalities of the State of Georgia and its political subdivisions have the legal authority to determine how and the extent to which they will create, send, receive, store, recognize, accept, be bound by, or otherwise use electronic records and electronic signatures, in situations where there is no other controlling law specifying a different type of record or signature.
2000-3 A local law cannot extend the tenure in office of an elected official who would otherwise immediately vacate that office, as required by the Georgia Constitution, when qualifying to run for another elected position.
2000-2 Under the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 47-3-92, only days of sick leave accrued while a member of the Teachers Retirement System may be credited towards retirement under the Teachers Retirement System.

The First Offender Act, O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60 et seq., is applicable to misdemeanor offenses.

99-17 Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.
99-11 Limitations placed upon municipal home rule powers by O.C.G.A. § 36-35-6 expressly preclude a municipality from providing by either ordinance or charter amendment, for a fine or forfeiture in excess of $1,000.
99-10 The Board of Regents is within its statutory and constitutional authority in establishing a supplemental retirement plan at the Medical College of Georgia in consideration of continued service by employees during significant institutional change.
99-16 While neither the United States nor the Georgia Constitution contains a per se prohibition against teaching about the Bible in public schools, there are very strict legal limitations on how, and in what context, such courses may be taught.
99-8 Where a vacancy is created by the prospective resignation of a member of a local board of education, the board may move to fill that vacancy prior to the effective date of the resignation.
99-9 Interest from cash bonds transferred by a sheriff to the appropriate clerk of court is not required to be remitted to the Georgia Indigent Defense Council unless the statute governing the particular clerk of court requires that the clerk remit interest to the Council. Also, since O.C.G.A. § 15-16-27(b) applies to cash bonds held by the sheriff, it does not apply to bonds posted by professional bondspersons.
99-5 Persons sentenced to community service may be utilized to assist counties or municipalities in preserving and protecting abandoned cemeteries or burial grounds.
99-6 A probate judge may not employ an attorney to prosecute criminal cases in the probate court.