State & Federal
Criminal cases are filed in both State and Federal Courts throughout the state of Georgia
Geographically, the judicial system for the State of Georgia is divided into ten (10) districts, and the larger districts are subdivided into several circuits. Within these districts, criminal cases can be filed in many different courts: trials are heard within magistrate court, state court, or superior court. Appeals are heard by the state court of appeals and by the Georgia Supreme Court. Each court has a presiding judge (or justices) as well as several prosecutors assigned to it.
Overlapping the state system is the federal judicial system. Federal crimes are litigated in the United States District Court for Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Georgia, with federal appeals being heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District and ultimately, by the United States Supreme Court.
Criminal defense lawyers in Georgia should be experienced in many different courtrooms
Practicing criminal defense law in the State of Georgia, and particularly the Atlanta area, can become logistically complicated. Experienced Atlanta criminal lawyers, to do the best for their clients, must become acquainted with the local rules and methods of practice in a wide variety of courtrooms --- as well as becoming familiar with many more prosecutors and judges than their attorney peers in other parts of the state or country are required to do. It’s a challenge.
For example, considering metropolitan Atlanta, Fulton County takes in the entire Fifth Judicial District of the State of Georgia. Cherokee County and Gwinnett County are within the Ninth Judicial District; DeKalb County and Rockdale County are in the Fourth District; Cobb County, and Douglas County, the Seventh District; with Clayton County and Henry County in the Sixth.
Different state courtrooms sit in each of these districts. Therefore, in any given time period, a successful criminal defense attorney serving the Atlanta community (which includes many different municipalities including Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Marietta, and Lawrenceville) may appear in any number of courtrooms and negotiate with a great many prosecutors in several different counties and jurisdictions.
Ford Law Firm criminal lawyers appear before both state and federal courts for their clients
It takes patience, organization, and tenacity to become adept at representing clients in all the state and federal courts available for criminal proceedings in the Atlanta area. Some criminal lawyers try and curtail their efforts with a map, refusing cases outside a certain area. Some Atlanta criminal attorneys divide their practice between state or federal courts, or draw a line between trials and appeals.
The Ford Law Firm does not believe this serves the best interests of its clientele. Knowing the neighboring venues is important to clients as they argue fair treatment and due process in their case. A defendant in Fulton County should not be treated in a substantially different manner than someone in Gwinnett or DeKalb, for example. Some crimes, such as certain sex crimes, can violate both state and federal laws and defense negotiations should involve both eventualities. Only a lawyer that is well versed in the criminal defense community for the entire metropolitan Atlanta area can bring together this type of detail.
While it may result in a complicated calendar at times, the lawyers at the Ford Law Firm believe it is too important to our clients not to be ready to defend a client in both state and federal arenas, at both trial and appeal.