Judges, Courts, Information
Judge Alan Morris was appointed as a Magistrate Judge of Pickens County in 2014. He remained in that position until being appointed Chief Magistrate on May 1, 2020.
Judge Morris was elected Chief Magistrate Judge of Pickens County in 2020 and began his term on January 1, 2021. Judge Morris was also appointed to serve as an Associate Probate Judge of Pickens County in 2021.
Judge Morris was born and raised in Jasper, Georgia and graduated from Pickens County High School. In 1999 he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History, with a minor in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University.
Prior to his appointment to the bench in 2014, Judge Morris had worked in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit for 13 years, serving as a Probation Officer and Investigator for the Office of the Public Defender.
When not working, Judge Morris enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, as well as fishing, golfing, and reading.
Judge Jessica G. Cantrell was appointed as an Associate Magistrate Judge of Pickens County on January 1, 2021.
Judge Cantrell was raised in Monroe, Georgia and graduated from South Gwinnett High School. After high school, Judge Cantrell attended Georgia Southern University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, with a minor in Chinese. Once she graduated, she moved to Washington D.C. and worked for a congressman until she was accepted to law school.
She received her Juris Doctorate from Valparaiso University and has been licensed to practice law in Georgia since 2013. Judge Cantrell began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Walton County. From 2015 to the end of 2020, Judge Cantrell was an Assistant District Attorney for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. There she prosecuted felonies, misdemeanors, and was the child abuse prosecutor for Pickens County. In that capacity, she also handled cases in Probate Court and Magistrate Court.
Judge Cantrell is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Appalachian Bar Association.
Judge David W. Lindsey was appointed in 2013 to serve as an Associate Judge of the Magistrate Court of Pickens County. Judge Lindsey was elected to the office of Probate Judge of Pickens County in 2012 and began his term of office on January 1, 2013.
Judge Lindsey was born and raised in Jasper, Georgia and graduated from Pickens County High School. After high school, Judge Lindsey enrolled in the University of Georgia in Athens and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1993. In 1996, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law. While in law school, Judge Lindsey was a founding member of the Georgia League for Rural Enhancement and had the privilege of serving as an intern for Congressman Ed Jenkins in Washington, D.C.
Upon graduation from law school, Judge Lindsey returned to Pickens County and served two years as law clerk in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit for Judge Brenda S. Weaver and Judge Bobby C. Milam. From 1998-2012, he engaged in the general practice of law based in Jasper, Georgia and Canton, Georgia, focusing his practice primarily in the areas of probate, real estate, civil litigation, municipal law, and family law. He served as the City Attorney for the City of Ellijay from 1999-2012 and as the public defender for the City of Jasper Municipal Court.
Judge Lindsey is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Appalachian Bar Association. When away from judicial activities, Judge Lindsey enjoys spending time with his wife, Marie, and their two children, Carter and Sophie, supporting the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team, reading, and golfing. He and his family are members of the Jasper United Methodist Church.
Courtney WilsonClerk of Court[email protected]706-253-8747
Kathy DurhamMagistrate Clerk[email protected]
Kathy BruceMagistrate Clerk[email protected]
This information provides both the Plaintiff and the Defendant with some basic tips to assist them in preparing for a hearing in the Magistrate Court. Basic procedures are covered, BUT SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS concerning procedural steps, PLEASE CALL THE MAGISTRATE COURT before the hearing date. IT IS ILLEGAL FOR THE CLERK OR THE JUDGE TO GIVE YOU LEGAL ADVICE. Should you need legal advice, please see an attorney.
THE MAGISTRATE COURT IS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THE GENERAL PUBLIC; THEREFORE IF THERE IS LANGUAGE THAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND, PLEASE CONTACT THE MAGISTRATE COURT FOR AN EXPLANATION. FOR LEGAL ADVICE, CONTACT AN ATTORNEY.
Please DO NOT ask to discuss your case with the Judge. It is unlawful for a Judge to discuss a case unless both the Plaintiff and Defendant are present.
If you should move, it is your responsibility to inform the Court in writing of your new address. The Court is not responsible for a party who does not receive their hearing notice because they did not inform the Court of a new address. The Court may issue a default judgment against a Defendant who does not appear at the hearing. If the Plaintiff fails to provide the Court with their new address, and does not appear at the hearing, the Court may dismiss the case.
The Plaintiff must prove the Defendant is indebted to the Plaintiff, and must also prove the amount of damages in detail. The Magistrate Court is required to apply “the rules of evidence.” The Court CANNOT AND WILL NOT accept estimates, letters, affidavits, or statements which are considered “hearsay” for the purpose of proving damages. This means that if the person who wrote the letter or statement is not at the hearing to testify, the document will not be admissible. The party introducing such evidence must have the maker of these writings in court so that the other party may cross examine (question) that person. Just as you may not introduce a writing without having its maker in court, you cannot tell the Judge what someone said who is not at the hearing and available for cross examination (questioning). In some cases, you may need to seek the advice of an attorney to determine which evidence to introduce. It is illegal for the Judge or any of the Court’s employees to tell you what to introduce or how to try your case.
You should gather all of your documents (receipts, warranties, etc.) and organize them before the hearing. You will need to notify your witnesses of your Court date. The Court is not responsible for witnesses who do not show up at the hearing unless they are properly subpoenaed. You may obtain subpoenas from the court and serve them yourself or you may use a process server. If you or a process server effects service, the witness must be served a minimum of 24 hours before their appearance is scheduled and a return of service must be filed with the Court in order for the Court to enforce the witness’ appearance. A witness that lives outside of Pickens County must also be paid the statutory witness fee and mileage in order for the Court to enforce their appearance. However, the court will have witnesses subpoenaed if you file a written request for it to do so. The written request must include the witness(es) name(s), address(es), and phone number(s). There is a ten dollar ($10.00) service fee to subpoena a witness.
If you decide to hire an attorney after you file your claim, make sure the attorney files a Notice of Appearance with the Court in advance. If such a notice is not filed, the Court may refuse to allow the attorney to represent you unless the other party has no objections. If you choose to hire an attorney, please do so as soon as possible. Waiting until the last minute puts everyone at a disadvantage.
You will receive notice of your hearing by mail. If after receiving your hearing notice you discover that you have a conflict, you should immediately request a continuance from the Court. This request must be in writing and state the reason a continuance is needed. DO NOT wait until near or on the trial date to ask for a continuance where there are no legal grounds to support it. One continuance may be granted at the Judge’s discretion. A second continuance will be much harder to obtain.
After the calendar is called on Court day, a ten minute recess will be called and the Plaintiff and Defendant will be asked to discuss their positions in an attempt to settle the case without a trial. The Court is mandated by Georgia Law to require the parties to attempt to reach a settlement. The Court will not ask anyone to accept any unreasonable or unfair offer, but only that the parties try to reach an agreement.
At the end of the ten minute recess, the Judge will handle all of the settled cases first and then the trials will begin. The cases with the fewest witnesses will be tried first because they will take the least amount of time.
The Judge will explain the trial procedures before the hearing begins. All persons (parties and witnesses) that will testify at the hearing will be sworn or affirmed. If there is an attorney involved, the court will give them the option of swearing or affirming their own witness(es).
The Plaintiff has the burden of proving the Defendant’s liability as well as the amount of damages. For this reason, the Plaintiff will have the first opportunity to tell the Court his/her side of the case and present evidence on his/her behalf. After the Plaintiff has finished, the Defendant is allowed to cross-examine the Plaintiff (ask the Plaintiff questions about his/her testimony). The Defendant should not make any additional statements or comments at this time. The Plaintiff may also offer the testimony of witnesses if there are any. This will be done by the Plaintiff asking questions of the Witness(es) and the Witness(es) directing their answers to the Court. The Plaintiff should not ask leading questions. These are questions suggesting an answer and can often be answered with a yes or no. This only affirms what the Plaintiff has stated in his/her question. The witness(es) adds nothing to the case by answering leading questions on direct examination. The witness(es) testimony is more credible when he/she testifies in response to the question. After the Plaintiff completes his/her questioning of each witness, the Defendant may cross-examine (ask questions) the witness(es). Leading questions are permitted during cross-examination.
Any physical evidence (pictures, receipts, documents, etc.) presented to the Court must be shown to the opposing party before it is handed to the Judge (showing evidence to the opposing side before the hearing is ideal). Before the Plaintiff rests his/her case, the Judge will ask which exhibits (evidence) are to be entered into evidence. The Judge will ask the opposing party if it objects to any of the submitted evidence. If there is an objection the Judge will decide which evidence will be accepted according to the law. Once an item is accepted into evidence, it becomes part of the Court’s file and will not be returned. You are responsible for making copies of your documents ahead of time.
Once the Plaintiff has rested his/her case, the Defendant will begin his/her case following the same procedures as the Plaintiff. After the Defendant has rested his/her case, each party will be given 5 minutes for closing arguments. At this time, each side will try to convince the Court to rule in their favor by pointing out the highlights of the evidence that is most favorable to their position, but no additional question can be asked nor can any further evidence be submitted.
The Judge may make a decision at this time or may take the case under advisement and let the parties know of his/her decision through the mail. A written judgment will be sent to each party in the mail as soon as it is prepared. Please DO NOT call the Court and ask for its decision. This information will not be provided over the phone. If you wish, you may return to the clerk’s office and review the docket to learn of the Court’s decision. After a decision has been entered, the Judge will not explain his/her decision unless both parties are present. If you are unhappy with the outcome and feel you have sufficient merit for an appeal, you may do so. Therefore, NO FI FA WILL ISSUE UNTIL THE 30 DAY APPEAL PERIOD HAS EXPIRED.
Either party has the right to appeal the judgment of the Magistrate Court. A Civil case MUST be appealed within 30 days from the date of Judgment. The appeal must be made in writing and appeal forms may be obtained from the Clerk of the Magistrate Court. The appeal will go to the Superior Court of Pickens County. The party filing the appeal must pay the Superior Court’s filing fee.
Appeals from dispossessory actions MUST be filed within 7 days from the date of judgment, and also requires, in addition to the appeal costs, that any amounts of rent determined due by the Magistrate Court be paid into the registry of the Superior Court at the time of appeal, and all future rents must also be paid into the registry of the Superior Court at the time they are due.
If a Defendant fails to show at trial, a default judgment is issued and there is no appeal. If the defendant fails to answer a civil claim within 30 days, the case is in default and the Defendant has 15 days in which he/she may open the default by paying court cost and filing an answer. No fi fa will be issued on a default judgment for 15 days.
Monday through Friday8:00am – 5:00pm Office Hours8:00am – 4:00pm Issue Marriage Licenses, Weapon’s Carry Licenses, & Vital Records
Traffic Court Information
Required to Attend Court
Super Speeder Law
Super Speed Limitations:
For Georgia License Information, please call the Georgia Department of Drivers Services at 678-413-8400
The cost for a marriage license is $76.00 payable by cash, money order/cashier’s checks, or Visa or MasterCard credit/debit cards (processing fees apply).
If you have had at least 6 hours of marriage counseling, you may receive a license at the reduced fee of $36.00. In order to receive the reduced fee, you must have your counselor complete the certificate provided by the Probate Court (Certificate of Premarital Counseling).
Marriage License Applications are accepted on normal business days between the hours of 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Any Georgia resident may apply for a license in any county in Georgia. However, if neither applicant is a resident of Georgia, you may only obtain your license in the county where the ceremony is performed. The license does not have an expiration date.
Both parties must present a photo I.D. and must show proof of age. We accept the following documents as proof of age: certified birth certificate (with official translation if not English), passport, driver’s license, or military I.D.
Parties may arrange to have a private wedding ceremony performed by a qualified officiant; however, Probate Court does not perform wedding ceremonies. For information on who may perform ceremonies, please see O.C.G.A. §19-3-30(c).
There are a number of different proceedings which may be filed in the Probate Court following the death of a Georgia resident or a nonresident who owned property in Georgia. Proceedings are filed in the Probate Court of the County of Deceased’s residence or a County where property of a nonresident is located.
This pamphlet briefly describes the usual initial proceedings. For each proceeding described, there is a standard form which the Court will provide to any person.
It is recommended that you discuss matters of concern with an attorney who practices probate or estate law. An attorney can assist you in determining which proceeding is the most appropriate for your particular situation. Very often, there are other matters (e.g., tax returns, preparation of deeds, title transfers, etc.) which may also make it necessary for you to seek the services of an attorney.
If you proceed without an attorney, it will be your responsibility to determine or select the proceeding appropriate to your situation. Probate Court Staff may not make the determination or selection for you, since to do so may constitute the unauthorized practice of law, a misdemeanor under Georgia law. Neither the Court nor the county can accept responsibility for incorrect decisions made by staff, and the staff members have been directed to refrain from giving such advice.
It is also your responsibility to properly complete all forms, which must be typed or legibly printed in black ink. Staff are not permitted to perform stenographic tasks for the public. Staff may be able to answer general questions about the standard forms, deadlines for filing of proceedings, scheduling uncontested hearings, and how other matters are scheduled by the Court.
The Probate Judge is required by law to remain impartial to all parties. The Judge must treat every case as though it may become contested. Therefore, the Judge may not advise you on which proceeding is most appropriate to your case. The Judge is prohibited from discussing the facts or evidence in any contested case with a party unless all parties are present. You should not ask to discuss your case privately with the Judge, and you should understand if the Judge stops any conversation with you which he deems to require the presence of others.
Solemn Form Probate: This procedure requires notice to all heirs-at-law and becomes binding upon all parties immediately upon appointment of the Executor. All heirs must be duly served or must acknowledge service. The Court will appoint a Guardian ad litem for each minor or incapacitated adult heir. The notice requires anyone having a legal cause to object to the Will (“contest it”) to file the objection by a certain deadline. “Heirs-at-law” are the persons who would inherit the estate if there were no lawful Will; they may or may not be beneficiaries under the Will. The original Will must be filed before or at time petition to probate is filed and proof of the execution of the Will must be provided by Interrogatories or other legal proof of Witness. Since March 28, 1984, it has been possible to have a will or codicil “self-proven” by means of a specially worded affidavit signed by the Testator and Witnesses.
Common Form Probate: This procedure may be done without notice to heirs but does not become legally binding for four years after the appointment of the Executor. The requirements of filing the original Will and proof of proper execution are the same as with solemn form probate. Heirs and others legally interested in the estate may file a petition that the Will be offered for probate in solemn form so that objection may be filed to it, at any time up to four years after the common form probate.
Probate Will in Solemn Form & for Letters Administration With Will Annexed: If there is a Will but the named Executor(s) is/are either unable or unwilling to serve, an Administrator with Will Annexed may be appointed. If a named Executor is still living, he/she must sign a document that he/she declines to serve, or there must be testimony that the nominated Executor is unable to serve, in which case he/she must be served as are the heirs.
Will Filed Only, Not Probated: If there is no property to pass under the Will, probate is not necessary. However, the Will of a Deceased must be filed with the Probate Court. Real estate, unlike joint bank accounts, may not automatically pass to a surviving co-owner. If the only property in the estate is a motor vehicle, title may be transferable through the Tag Office without probate being necessary. There is no cost to file a Will not offered for probate.
Permanent Administration: This procedure requires notice to all heirs. A surviving spouse or sole heir is entitled to serve as Administrator; otherwise, the administrator must be selected by a majority of the Deceased’s heirs. Administrators must post bond and file inventories and returns, unless ALL heirs-at-law consent to a waiver of those requirements If ALL heirs consent, the Administrator may be given additional powers and authority. Natural guardians of minor heirs and legal guardians of incapacitated adult heirs may acknowledge service, consent to selection and consent to waive requirements, unless guardian is Applicant.
Temporary Administration: Notice to all heirs-at-law is not required, but a majority of the heirs-at-law must select the Temporary Administrator, unless the Applicant is the surviving spouse or sole heir. Powers are limited to collecting and preserving the assets of the Deceased. No expenditures, disbursement or transfer of title may be made without a special court order. Temporary administrators must post bond and file inventories and returns. When selection is required, natural guardians of minor heirs and legal guardians of incapacitated adult heirs may consent to selection unless the guardian is the Applicant.
No Administration Necessary: If there is no Will, all heirs are over the age of 18 and not under any legal disability, all debts have been paid (or if all creditors consent), there is no need for formal administration, and the heirs have agreed on how the estate will be divided, this proceeding may be filed. Any creditors who have not consented to entry of Order Declaring No Administration Necessary must be served and not object.
Year’s Support: This proceeding may be filed only for the benefit of a surviving spouse and/or minor children of a Deceased. Minor children must be given a share of a year’s support award. The Application asks that specific, identified property be awarded to the spouse and/or minor children. Notice must be given to all “interested persons”. Property awarded as year’s support is free of all unsecured debts of the Deceased’s Estate, and the Award takes precedence over any disposition by Will.
Petition to Enter Safety Deposit Box: This proceeding is usually used when there is thought to be a Will in a safety deposit box. The order authorizes a bank to open and examine contents of the box in the presence of the petitioner. If a Will is found, the bank must deliver it directly to the Probate Court. Insurance policies may be delivered to the named beneficiaries, and petitioner may receive burial instructions and deed to a burial plot. Other contents must remain in the box until an Executor or Administrator is appointed.
This information is a revision of the writing of Honorable William J. Self, II, Judge of the Probate Court of Bibb County, Georgia, and Ms. Dianne Brannen, Ombudsman for the Probate Court of Bibb County, Georgia. Judge Self received his B.B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of Georgia. Ms. Brannen received a B.M. degree from Wesleyan College, an M.B.A. degree from California State University, Los Angeles, and a J.D. degree from Mercer University.
Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the probate of wills, administration of estates, temporary guardianships of minors, permanent guardianship and conservatorship over minor and adult wards, and applications for year’s support awards.
There are filing fees associated with all petitions and these fees are due upon filing the petition. Once the proper paperwork is filed and the fees are paid, you will be scheduled a time to appear before the Judge and have your petition heard as all matters are handled by appointment only. Forms for these procedures and additional information are available in the office or online at www.gaprobate.gov.
If you elect to proceed without an attorney, it will be your responsibility as the petitioner to determine and/or select the appropriate petition to file for your situation. Probate Court staff cannot give legal advice and can only answer in general questions concerning the Georgia Standard Probate Forms. Neither the Court nor the County can accept responsibility for incorrect decisions made by the staff, and they have been directed to refrain from giving that kind of advice. Click here for more information.
Pickens County Probate Court is the custodian of vital records for Pickens County. Georgia law dictates what relations may obtain a birth certificate for another person. For further information regarding vital records, paternity acknowledgements, legitimations, amendments and corrections, and delayed birth certificates, please contact our office or visit:
Certified copies of birth or death certificates:
$25.00 for the search fee and first copy.
$5.00 for each additional copy obtained at the same time for the same person.
Under Georgia Law, Birth Records are restricted documents and can only be requested by individuals who are eligible to receive them (eligibility requirements are described in detail on the appropriate application forms). To protect you and the community from Identity Theft, we require the following documentation to be presented along with your application:
Individuals under the age of 15 are unable to request a copy of their own record.
Individuals who are unable to provide an acceptable form of photo ID as listed above, may obtain a birth certificate directly from VitalChek (third party vendor).
Birth Certificates are only issued to applicants having a direct and tangible interest, primary immediate family members, or legal representatives of the family. However, as explained below, there are instances in which specific documentation is required based on who is requesting the record.
Permit for Disposition of Human Remains (10-19)
Effective November 14th, 2017, the Georgia Department of Public Health amended DPH Rule 511-1-3-.23 PERMITS FOR DISPOSITION, DISINTERMENT, AND REINTERMENT. The amendments to this rule are as follows:
Submit completed permits, with certified cause of death, to Pickens County Probate Court via Fax 706-253-8760. For issuance of permits after hours, please complete section 1 of Form 3494 and email, with certified cause of death, to [email protected]
Please note: Disposition permits must be issued by the county registrar of the county where the death occurred. Pickens County Probate Court can only issue permits for deaths that occurred in Pickens County.
The Probate Court issues firearms licenses, also known as “Georgia Weapons Carry License” as governed by O.C.G.A.§16-11-126 through 134. Applicants are encouraged to read the applicable law prior to making application to ensure a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities. You may obtain a copy of the applicable law in the office.
To apply for a firearms license in this court, you must be 21 years of age or older and be a resident of Pickens County. If the applicant is AT LEAST 18, has completed basic training in the armed forces of the United States, AND provides proof that he or she is actively serving or has been honorably discharged they may be issued a license if no other prohibitors apply.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, the following documents are required for application:
Applications MUST be filled out with the name exactly as it appears on the Driver’s License.
Click on the button above to Apply for Your Weapons Carry License.
You will receive a confirmation number upon completion which you will need to bring with you to the Probate Court office within two (2) weeks of completing the application, along with:
Each of the three counties – Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens – of the Appalachian Circuit has its own Superior Court, with each judge serving all three counties.
The Superior Court is Georgia’s general jurisdiction trial court. It has exclusive, constitutional authority over felony cases, divorce, equity, and cases regarding title to land. Superior Court also handles appeals from Probate Court and Magistrate Court.
Pickens Clerk of Superior CourtJennifer Jordan52 North Main StreetP.O. Box 130Jasper, GA 30143
706-253-8763 phone706-253-8763 jury phone line
Each of the three counties – Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens – of the Appalachian Circuit has its own Juvenile Court, with each judge serving all three counties.
The Juvenile Court’s mission is to protect children from abuse and neglect, to strengthen families, to provide treatment and supervision to juveniles who are in need of rehabilitation or in need of services, and to protect the community from delinquent behavior.
The exclusive original jurisdiction of Juvenile Courts for delinquency cases covers any delinquent act alleged to have been committed before the child’s seventeenth birthday. For dependency actions and those involving children in need of services (CHINS) the jurisdiction of the Court extends to age eighteen.
Pickens Clerk of Juvenile CourtJennifer Jordan52 North Main StreetP.O. Box 130Jasper, GA 30143