State Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal cases and general civil cases, with certain exceptions such as domestic relations cases. State Court judges preside over criminal arraignments, criminal and civil motion hearings, criminal and civil jury and non-jury trials, and hearings on probation violations.
The criminal caseload in State Court includes DUI offenses, family violence offenses, traffic offenses and thefts.
In 2001, retired Chief State Court Judge Kent Lawrence began the first DUI/Drug Court program in the State of Georgia. This Court provides intensive supervision, treatment and counseling to persons with substance abuse issues to reduce DUI recidivism. This Court is recognized as a model for DUI/Drug Court programs nationwide and is one of four National Academy Courts recognized by the National Association for Drug Court Professionals. Teams from across the nation come to Athens-Clarke County to be trained on how to run a Drug Court.
The DUI/Drug Court continues in operations today as envisioned by Judge Lawrence and serves 85-100 participants at any one time.