The following is from a letter from Chief Judge Kelli L. Wolk, defining the essential functions of the Probate Court to be carried out during the current Judicial Emergency, as declared by Superior Court Chief Judge Reuben Green and Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton:
"March 13, 2020
On March 13, 2020, Chief Judge Reuben Green issued an Order Declaring Judicial Emergency ("Order") for the Cobb Judicial Circuit pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 38-3-60. The Order provides that "civil and other nonessential matters shall be limited by the courts."
Pursuant to the Order and in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare; the Probate Court of Cobb County will remain open and will conduct all essential functions listed below. All other, non-essential matters will, by separate order, be canceled, rescheduled, or conducted by alternative methods for the duration of the judicial emergency. Amended hearing notices will be sent to all parties with remaining matters at the conclusion of the judicial emergency.
The following are designated as the essential functions of the Cobb Probate Court:
• Proceedings under O.C.G.A. §§ 29-4-14 and 29-5-14 et seq. (Emergency guardianship/conservatorship Petitions)
• Proceedings under O.C.G.A. §§ 29-4-1 and 29-5-1 et seq. (Permanent guardianships/conservatorships with accusations of abuse, neglect, or harm)
• Other legitimate emergency petitions or motions
• Medical consent guardianships (which are expected to increase)
• All proceeding in the Pro bate Court pertaining to or resulting from actions identified in Title 31, and Title 37
• Marriage licenses (NOTE: we would request any parties wishing to obtain a marriage license for future or unscheduled wedding ceremonies delay application during the heightened risk period)
• Pending Citations for mismanagement by fiduciaries.
We would like to encourage all attorneys and self-represented litigants to conduct business with the Court via mail as often as possible rather than filing pleadings or other documents in person with the Court.
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 15-9-60(d), attorneys and self-represented litigants will be able to submit an initial thirty ($30.00) deposit in order to file non-emergency actions. A subsequent order will be entered specifying the fees due to process the filing and a date by which such fees must be paid or the action will stand dismissed.
The Court will be issuing amended orders on currently pending matters to provide for telephonic hearings where possible and rescheduling where impractical. If you are unsure about the status of a hearing, please contact the Court at 770-528-1900 or go to https://www.cobbcounty.org/courts/probate-court/contact for contact information particular to your case.
Kelli L. Wolk, Judge, Cobb County Probate Court"
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Tara C. Riddle, Associate Judge of the Cobb County Probate Court also made the following announcement concerning the operation of the Court:
"Pursuant to the County's issuance of the Emergency Limited Operational Services Policy (LOS) today, beginning tomorrow, March 18th, the Cobb County Probate Court will be staggering our in-person staff every other day. This means that only half of our current staff will be working at the Court each day. Therefore, we ask for your cooperation and understanding if there is a slight delay in processing. We will try our best to move things along as quickly as possible. Also, please be mindful that we are only accepting in-person filings on essential matters as defined in the attached letter pursuant to the Supreme Court's Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency and the Order from the Cobb Superior Court Chief Judge Green Declaring a Judicial Emergency. We are also working on developing a system for administering oaths by video conference and will let you know as soon as possible once that process is up and running.
Thank you for your understanding in these unprecedented times. Please let us know if you have any questions on these policies.
Tara C. Riddle
Cobb County Probate Court"