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 From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete.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
97-13

Under Georgia law, active duty military personnel are exempted from the requirement of a firearms permit. The exemption is not limited to the performance of military duty. These personnel may, upon request, obtain a firearms permit if otherwise qualified. Their dependents may be issued a permit if otherwise qualified only upon establishing residency in this state. Law enforcement officers are also exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit.

97-13

The Teachers Retirement System and the Employees' Retirement System of Georgia may seek, but are not required to seek, the assistance and approval of the Department of Administrative Services regarding custodian agreements for the Systems' investment securities.

97-9

The Georgia Military College may not pledge real property to secure borrowing.

97-12

All persons or entities who sell to or contract with state government and who give any gifts to public employees which in the aggregate exceed $250.00 in value must by February 1 of each calendar year file a disclosure report with the State Ethics Commission.

97-10

Application of the Ex Post Facto Clause of Art. I, Sec. X of the United States Constitution to the Sentence Reform Act of 1994.

97-10

Application of the Ex Post Facto Clause of Art. I, Sec. X of the United States Constitution to the Sentence Reform Act of 1994

97-11

A member of the General Assembly may serve as a member of the Albany-Dougherty County Planning Commission without there being a per se constitutional, statutory or common-law conflict of interest.

97-8

The Ethics in Government Act establishes a total dollar limit for contributions which may be given to any individual candidate within a calendar year, regardless of the number of campaign committees a person may have in existence or their purpose.

97-10

Restoration of all civil and political rights, excluding the right to receive, possess, or transport in commerce a firearm, is not determinative of whether an applicant for professional bondsperson "is a person of good moral character and has not been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude."

97-6

The described use of appropriated funds violates the gratuities clause. For its expenditure or forbearance to collect, the State must receive something new, worth the money paid or let go, as determined by the appropriate state agency as a fiduciary of public funds.

97-7

The term "capital outlay projects for educational purposes" set forth at Article VIII, Section VI, Paragraph IV(b)(1) of the Georgia Constitution includes school buses and equipment with an extended useful life.

97-9

The General Assembly must offer to qualified individuals with disabilities appropriate auxiliary aids or services when necessary to provide an equal opportunity to take part in programs and services during the legislative session.

97-8

Questions regarding charter schools.

97-5

Parties to a civil action to establish paternity are not entitled to a trial by jury.

97-7

Georgia statutes authorizing the Department of Public Safety to require applicants for a driver's license or identification card to submit fingerprints do not violate the constitutional rights of Georgia citizens.

1997-6

There is no irreconcilable conflict between the provisions of the credit repair law set forth at O.C.G.A. § 16-9-59 and the provisions of the debt adjustment law set forth at O.C.G.A. § 18-5-1 et seq. with regard to their effect on the operation of consumer debt counseling services by nonprofit organizations exempt from taxation under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Although exempt from the credit repair law, such organizations are prohibited from engaging in the activities proscribed by the debt adjustment law

97-4

The State Patrol cannot be prevented from carrying out its duties on public roads and highways.

97-5

Under the Constitution, the General Assembly is responsible for appropriating federal funds, but federal funds are continually appropriated.

97-4

The definition of "emergency condition" found at O.C.G.A. § 31-11-81(1) would control over any contrary definition contained in any insurance policy issued in Georgia after the effective date of the Emergency Services Law; further, any managed care plan offered to a Georgia resident after the effective date of the Patient Protection Act of 1996 must contain, as a plan provision disclosed to participants, the definitions of "emergency services" and "emergency care" found at O.C.G.A. § 33-20A-3(2).

97-3

Neither a district attorney nor members of the district attorney's staff should be present for deliberations of the grand jury.

97-3

Paper ballots may be used as an alternative to voting machines where ballot questions contemplated by the constitutional amendment authorizing a 1% sales and use tax for educational purposes cannot be made to adhere to the 75-word limitation contained in O.C.G.A. ¿ 21-2-325(b).

97-2

Notwithstanding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) interpretation to the contrary, the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) does not authorize another state to object to activities wholly within the geographical boundaries of Georgia. Also, Georgia's participation in the CZMA Program would not constitute consent to waiver of its Eleventh Amendment immunity or consent for other states to assert regulatory jurisdiction within Georgia.

97-2

When requesting a student's social security number, local school districts must tell the student whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, what use will be made of it, and by what authority the number is requested.

97-1

Official Code of Georgia Annotated ¿ 16-10-9 prohibits an individual who is employed as a staff member in the judicial branch of state government or in the General Assembly from being employed as a graduate research, laboratory, or teaching assistant at any unit of the University System of Georgia.

97-1

Under the Ethics in Government Act, an elected official is not required to report as the receipt of a campaign contribution the estimated "value" of his or her attendance at an event sponsored by a public or private entity, where the purpose of the appearance is not designed to bring about the nomination or election of the official.

96-26

The use of ultrasound to diagnose pregnancy in animals constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine.

96-25

Questions regarding Pub. L. 104-208, amending the Gun Control Act of 1968, under the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997.

96-24

Seizure and disposition by law enforcement agencies of stolen property acquired by pawn shops.

96-25

Race-based classifications and gender-based classifications in government disadvantaged business enterprise programs are inherently suspect.

96-23

School-age children placed in a facility by the Department of Human Resources or the Department of Children and Youth Services and who remain in that facility for more than sixty days must be provided a free education by the local school system in which the facility is located unless the child is in a Youth Detention Center, confined pursuant to a court sentence or unable to leave the facility.

96-24

The Cairo Development Authority may transfer assets, including cash and contract rights, to a joint, city-county development authority in return for services; in activating the joint authority, the governing bodies of the city and county may agree with one another not to appoint elected officials to the new entity.

96-22

Candidates for certification as a peace officer may not carry a weapon while on patrol with a field training officer unless they comply with the mandatory licensing requirements of O.C.G.A. ¿ 16-11-126 through 16-11-129.

96-22

The provisions of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127, which prohibit the carrying of deadly weapons to or at public gatherings, while not limited in application to the enumerated places and functions in the statute, do not apply to every place in which the public may be present, but only to those places in which the public is gathered.

96-23

The provisions of O.C.G.A. § 3-7-2 authorize validly licensed private clubs to sell alcoholic beverages at any time on Sundays without regard to the laws of local counties and municipalities.

96-21

A supplemental retirement plan for public employees which does not require substantial benefit to the employer, in the form of new service or otherwise, violates the prohibitions against governmental gratuities and extra compensation for services rendered.

96-18

A video slot machine which involves no skill in its operation and offers a ticket value of up to $5.00 in merchandise is a "gambling device."

96-21

Ultimate Fighting matches that encompass boxing, kick boxing, or contact karate are subject to O.C.G.A. Chapter 31, the rules and regulations developed thereunder, and the authority of the Georgia Boxing Commission.

96-20

Pursuant to an act passed in 1996, rape and aggravated sodomy are no longer included within the crimes for which the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is ten years; for these offenses, the mandatory term is one year in prison. Life without parole remains the mandatory term for repeat offenders.

96-19

Whether the Georgia Lottery for Education Act prohibits the use of lottery funds under the HOPE Scholarship Program for home school student admitted for postsecondary education.

96-17

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Department is authorized to enforce Lowndes County ordinances 94-0493-A and 94-0493-B, which prohibit trucks over ten wheels from using residential roads except when making temporary deliveries.

96-19

The State Board of Education lacks the statutory authority to hire its own staff or to designate Department of Education employees as staff for the Board.

96-20

The vendor disclosure requirement of O.C.G.A. ¿ 45-1-6 does not require disclosure of transactions, such as loans, extensions of credit and deposits, made in the ordinary course of business.

96-18

Official Code of Georgia Annotated ¿ 21-2-76 does not prohibit persons who hold office in political parties from serving as members of county boards of elections or boards of elections and registration as created under O.C.G.A. ¿ 21-2-40.

96-16

A tie vote on consideration of a zoning proposal by the Madison County Board of Commissioners is not a "defeat" of the proposal so as to bar its reconsideration pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 36-66-4.

96-17

Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.

96-16

Under the plain language of O.C.G.A. ¿ 35-8-20.1(a), a newly appointed police chief who assumes his term of employment in a new police agency after December 31, 1992, must take the 60 hours of chief executive training unless the appointed chief has previously completed the training.

96-15

Referral of a complaint of possible fraud, waste, or other abuse in the programs of a public employer for investigation is not, in and of itself, a prohibited disclosure of the identity of the complainant; if the investigation determines that the complaint was made with knowledge of its falsity, or with reckless disregard for the possibility that it was false, the complainant may be subject to disciplinary action.

96-15

Unless it has been formally discharged by court order, a grand jury may recess and reconvene as it sees fit to conduct business during the term of court, and may investigate the operation of county offices by reasonably observing county officials in the performance of their duties.

96-14

To hold the office of sheriff, even as an interim appointment, an appointee must seek certification as a peace officer as required under O.C.G.A. ¿ 15-16-1(c)(1)(J) or get a waiver as prescribed under the same Code Section.

96-13

The duties of law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians to facilitate organ donations under O.C.G.A. ¿ 17-6-11(b.1) must be performed harmoniously with the coroner's duty to take charge of the body of a fatally injured individual as required under O.C.G.A. ¿ 45-16-24.