On The Ballot
- The power to sign or veto legislation, command the armed forces, ask for the written opinion of their Cabinet, convene or adjourn Congress, grant reprieves and pardons, and receive ambassadors.
- The United States Senate comprises 100 elected officials, 2 per state, nationwide. One term cycle is 6 years, there is no term limit. The US Senate is the governing body that votes for or against the bill that was passed through congress. If there is ever a tie in vote, the Vice President of the United States will be the tie breaker. With the two party system, there is a Majority and Minority with respective leaders of each. As of right now, the Majority Leader is Mitch McConnell (R-AR), and Minority leader is Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
- The US House of Representatives, also known as Congress, is a federal legislative body underneath the US senate. There are 435 seats in Congress, each elected official serves 2 year terms with no term limits. The Majority Party holder choses a House Speaker. Right now, that is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
- This elected official is more closely accessible by the people, they are easier to get in touch with and will oftentimes respond to you if you were to reach out to them, obviously depending on the individual.
- Highest political authority of any of the 50 states. Main function is the sign bills into laws, serve as commander-in-chief to the National Guard and militia forces, convening special sessions of the state legislature, delivering a “state of the state” address to citizens, granting commutations and pardons to prisoners and appointing people to various judicial and state offices.
- A main job duty of a governor is to work with the legislature to ensure that the needs of the state are met through oversight hearings, new laws and the establishment of long-term goals and priorities. When the legislature and the governor are at odds, working collaboratively can be difficult, if not impossible.
- Highest officer of the state after the Governor, a stand in for the governor if they are out of state or incapasitated. The lieutenant governor is also frequently the presiding officer of the upper house of the state legislature, similar to the Vice President to the United States. In the event that a state governor dies, the Lieutenant Governor will often take over the role of Governor.
- With regards to Georgia, the Lieutenant Governor is elected on a separate ticket from the actual governor. In Georgia, the primary role of the Lieutenant Governor is to preside of the State Senate of Georgia.
Secretary of State
- The Georgia Secretary of State’s primary function is to oversee elections and maintain public records. The integrity of elections and voting procedure fall onto the Georgia SOS. This office is also a four year term.
- The Attorney General of Georgia is the chief law enforcement officer and lawyer for the U.S. state of Georgia. The officeholder is elected to a four-year term at the same time as elections are held for Governor of Georgia and other offices. The current Attorney General of Georgia is Christopher M. Carr.
- The electing of the Attorney General is the same time as the governor.
- Other duties:
- Providing opinions on legal questions concerning the State of Georgia or its agencies, which are binding on all state agencies and departments.
- Representing the State of Georgia in all capital felony appeals before the Supreme Court of Georgia.
- Representing the State of Georgia in all civil cases before any court.
- Representing the State of Georgia in all cases appearing before the Supreme Court of the United States.
- Prosecuting public corruption cases where criminal charges are filed against any person or business for illegal activity when dealing with the State of Georgia.
- Initiating civil or criminal actions on behalf of the State of Georgia when requested to do so by the Governor.
- Preparing and reviewing contracts and agreements regarding matters on behalf of the State of Georgia.
- Regulates and promotes the produce of Georgia’s agricultural industry.
- According to the department’s website, “the Georgia Department of Agriculture regulates, monitors, or assists with the following areas: grocery stores, convenience stores, food warehouses, bottling plants, food processing plants, pet dealers and breeders, animal health, gasoline quality and pump calibration, antifreeze, weights and measures, marketing of Georgia agricultural products domestically and internationally, pesticides, structural pest control, meat processing plants, seed quality, Vidalia onions, state farmers markets, plant diseases, nurseries and garden centers, fertilizer and lime, potting soil; feed, boll weevil eradication, apiaries, Humane Care for Equines Act, bottled water, and other responsibilities.”
- Primary function of Insurance Commissioner is to the Georgia Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner, which is responsible for regulating the state’s insurance industry and ensuring fire safety in the state. The commissioner is elected to four-year terms in federal midterm election years.
State School Superintendents
- The superintendent is charged by state law to, Carry out and enforce all the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education and the laws governing the schools receiving state aid.” Additionally, he is directed to make recommendations to the board on matters related to the “welfare and efficiency” of the public school system.
Public Service Commissioners
- Public service commissioners are responsible for making regulations covering Georgia’s electric, gas, telecommunications and intrastate transportation firms. State law also gives the commission the power to hear complaints against public utilities and require utilities to maintain certain services or facilities; commissioners are authorized to “examine the affairs\” of utilities and \”keep informed of their general condition.”
- The Georgia State Senate is comprised of 56 elected officials throughout the state who are there to “serve” you. The Chief officer of the State Senate is the LT. Governor
- The Constitution of Georgia requires a Senator to be at least 25 years old, an American citizen, a Georgia citizen for at least two years and a resident of his or her Senatorial District for at least one year immediately preceding election.
- The Legislative Branch of state government is the Georgia General Assembly, which consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. It makes the general policies and laws by which the needs of our society are met.
- Read more here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/sos/en-US/SenateFacts.aspx
- The State House Currently holds 180 elected officials from all around the state of Georgia. When a new bill (potential law) is presented to the Legislative body, it must come through the State House first before it can proceed to the State Senate.
- It is dubbed the “Lower House” of the State General Assembly. The SGA also includes the State Senate.
- The Speaker of the House of Representatives serves as the presiding officer of this legislative body. He or she is elected by fellow Members of the House to serve as their leader at the beginning of each two year term. The Speaker has traditionally been a member of the Majority Party. He or she is third in line in the gubernatorial succession line.
- District attorneys (DA) are the top prosecuting attorneys for state crimes occurring within their counties’ borders. DAs are typically elected by county residents, or in some cases, are appointed under state law. A District Attorney’s office participates in criminal investigations and determines whether to file criminal charges. DAs work to reach plea deals with criminal defendants, and try criminal cases before judges and juries when negotiation fails.
- The Court of Appeals is the court of first review for many civil and criminal cases decided in the trial courts. The purpose of such a review is to correct legal errors or errors of law made at the trial level, not to alter jury verdicts or the outcome of bench trials.
Supreme Court Judge
- The Supreme Court of Georgia, the state’s highest court, reviews decisions made by other courts in civil and criminal cases. This court alone rules on questions involving the constitutionality of state statutes, all criminal cases involving a sentence of death, and petitions from decisions of the Court of Appeals.
State Court Judge
- State courts exercise limited jurisdiction within one county. These judges hear misdemeanors including traffic violations, issue search and arrest warrants, hold preliminary hearings in criminal cases, and try civil matters not reserved exclusively for the superior courts.
- The County Commissioners build and maintain roads, bridges and sometimes airports.
- They control and care for county property, appoint board of tax assessors to value all property, plan and provide for parks, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities.
- The County Commissioners also prepare, review and decide on annual county budget.
- Also appoints and directs the county officials under their authority.
- They set and collect county taxes and provide for law enforcement and correctional facilities in the county
Relevant to Criminal Justice System:
Sheriff – County
- Investigating complaints
- Emergency response
- Monitoring traffic safety
- Resolving disputes
- Arresting suspects
- Criminal investigation
- Executing warrants
- Magistrate courts are county courts that issue warrants, hear minor criminal offenses and civil claims involving amounts of $15,000 or less.
Juvenile Judge- County
- Juvenile courts handle all cases involving juveniles under 18 who are alleged to be delinquent; those who are abused, neglected, or without a parent or guardian; those considered to be children in need of services, guidance, or counseling, including truants, runaways, and ungovernable juveniles; and traffic violations committed by those under the age of 17. The juvenile courts also hear cases involving consent to marriage for minors, enlistment of minors in the military, and emancipation proceedings
- The superior court exercises broad civil and criminal jurisdiction. Superior court judges preside over all felony trials, have exclusive jurisdiction over divorces and may correct errors made by limited jurisdiction courts.
- A probate judge is a civil court judge and a state judicial official who is in charge of overseeing all aspects of the probate court system. This can include not only the estates of deceased persons but competency issues and adoptions in some jurisdictions as well.
- Probate court in itself is a very important component to the US court system. The probate court is in charge of issuing marriage licenses, firearm licenses, and overseeing estate dispositions. https://georgia.gov/blog-post/2014-04-04/probate-court-georgia
- The tax commissioner is responsible for overseeing every phase of collecting property taxes. From processing Homestead Exemption applications through preparation of the digest, billing, accounting, and disbursements.
- The School Board is an elected body to oversee all aspects of its respected school district. Some responsibilities include: electing the superintendent and supporting him/her throughout their endeavors, establish school attendance areas, consider and act on recommendations based on the school superintendent, and establish policies that directly affect the school programs
- The Chief Coroner’s primary responsibility is to establish a cause and manner of any death. In the state of Georgia, the Coroner takes control if he/she believes there is an unusual or suspicious cause of the death.
- In 65 of the 159 counties in Georgia, misdemeanor cases (cases where the maximum punishment cannot exceed 12 months in jail) are prosecuted by the Solicitor-General. The Solicitor-General is an elected county officer who represents the State of Georgia in the trial and appeal of misdemeanor criminal cases in the State Courts and performs other duties as required by law.
- The responsibilities of the mayor include presiding over all meetings of the council, generally insuring that city departments run smoothly, helping to build a sense of community, and providing leadership and services to municipal citizens. The mayor serves as the official spokesperson for the city government. The mayor is often empowered with the authority to vote in the event of a tie and may or may not have veto power over legislation approved by council. The mayor is also responsible for signing contracts, ordinances and other instruments executed by the governing body which by law are required to be in writing (see Georgia Model Municipal Charter for details).
- Depending on the city’s form of government, the mayor’s executive duties range from largely ceremonial (as in the council-manager form of government) to managing day-to-day operations (as with the “strong mayor”/Mayor-Council form of government). Under the council-manager form of government, the mayor provides general oversight for executive functions but assigns day-to-day administrative duties to an appointed, professional manager.
- Councilmembers are empowered to make policy decisions and to approve ordinances, resolutions, and other local legislation to govern the health, welfare, comfort, and safety of the city’s residents. City council sets policy guidelines for the administrative and fiscal operations of the city. Under the “strong mayor”/Mayor-Council form of government, the city council’s administrative powers are very limited. However, under the “weak mayor”/Mayor-Council form, city council members may be assigned to committees that review how individual departments carry out programs.
- The police chief is often considered a very visible leader, they are in charge and oversee all things operations as well as budgets. They are often praised for the success of their workforce, and blamed for anything and everything that could and will go wrong.
- They are in charge of hiring personnel, firing, training, and assessing.
Municipal Court Judge
- Cities in Georgia establish municipal courts to adjudicate traffic offenses; local ordinance/violation cases (involving building code matters that include illegal dumping, excessive noise, zoning, animal control, and similar cases); conduct preliminary criminal hearings; issue warrants; abate nuisances; and in some cities hear misdemeanor shoplifting, criminal trespass, and possession of marijuana cases