From Judge Morse, Jr.

We are humbled and privileged to have been serving you for over twenty seven (27) years. You have entrusted us with the charge to handle your matters as fairly and efficiently as possible. To this end, this webpage is intended to assist you in having your matter addressed. Please understand there may be matters or questions we cannot address or answer. Likewise, we may not be able to resolve your issue instantaneously. However, we will endeavor to assist you as best as possible. If there is any information you deem pertinent to place on this website or any suggestion(s) you wish to make, feel free to forward to the office.

Best Regards,


John E. Morse, Jr., Judge
Superior Court, EJC


IMPORTANCE HIGH! Want a Ruling? Serve the Judge

With the conversion to e-filing in most civil matters, it is important to remember that unless the judge is served a copy of a motion, response, request, notice, etc., BY THE ATTORNEY, no ruling will be forthcoming.

Uniform Superior Court Rule 6 remains unchanged in its requirement in circuits such as the Eastern Judicial Circuit with individual judge assignment, that the attorney provide a copy of motions and associated materials for the judge:

Rule 6. MOTIONS IN CIVIL ACTIONS Rule 6.1. Filing In civil actions every motion made prior to trial, except those consented to by all parties, when filed shall include or be accompanied by citations of supporting authorities and, where allegations of unstipulated fact are relied upon, supporting affidavits, or citations to evidentiary materials of record. In circuits utilizing an individual assignment system, the clerk shall promptly upon filing furnish a copy provided by the attorney of such motions and related materials to the judge.

Furthermore, USCR 4.10 requires the attorney to notify the judge of dismissals. Imagine the dismay of the court when it belatedly discovers that a matter upon which the judge and staff attorney have been working has been dismissed unbeknownst to the court.

Documents filed in through eFileGA are not automatically sent to the assigned judge. It is solely and entirely the responsibility of counsel to supply the court with motions, responses, notices and other matters the attorney desires the court to consider.

It is the duty of the attorney to submit the motion, dismissal or other matter to the judge by doing so at the time of e-filing by selecting Courtesy Copy and entering the email address of the staff attorney assigned to the judge OR by delivering only one copy a hard copy of the motion AND PROPOSED ORDER where appropriate — by whatever means, e.g., mail, fax, hand-delivery most convenient copy.


It is apparent that many matters are simply being filed with the clerk and not transmitted to the assigned judge. If, therefore, you are awaiting a ruling in a matter and have not received one, you need to determine whether the assigned judge is even aware of the matter. In other words, absent compliance with the Uniform Superior Court Rules, you should not expect a ruling.


Case Assistance

Criminal Cases

If you require assistance or information regarding a pending criminal case assigned to Judge Morse, please contact his Criminal Case Manager, Jessica Easley at 912-652-7135.

Civil Cases

If you require assistance or information regarding a pending civil case assigned to Judge Morse, please contact his Administrative Assistant, Yvette Taylor at 912-652-7236. Please have your Civil Action Number available when making any inquiry to the Court.


Please read these two important notices before proceeding.

I. Court Reporters

Court Reporters record court proceedings for a fee that is prescribed by law.  They also transcribe proceedings upon request.  Anyone requesting a copy of a transcript must pay the per page cost, except where the requesting party is indigent.  Court Reporters are always present in criminal proceedings and habeas corpus hearings. 

A Court Reporter will appear for Civil and Family Law Cases only if a party requests a court reporter to be present to record the proceedings.  The request must be made to the Office of the Court Reporter, 912-652-7168, prior to the day of the hearing. Failure to have a court reporter present to report your case may have an adverse effect on your ability to appeal the ruling of the court.

The party requesting the court reporter is responsible for full payment unless the other party(ies) agree to share the cost.

II. Mediation

By a Standing Order of the Chatham County Superior Court Judges, most Civil and Family Law cases must be mediated before a pretrial conference or final hearing.  Click here to download the Standing Order .

Parties are responsible for complying with this Standing Order before requesting a pretrial conference or final hearing.

For more information visit the Savannah Mediation Center and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division (ADR) .

Jury Trials

Request by letter to the judge. You will receive (letter indicating a request was made for a trial) notice of a pretrial hearing and will be expected to complete and consolidate the Pretrial Order required by the Uniform Superior Court Rules.

Bench Trials

Request by letter to the judge indicating how long the expected bench trial will take ie: ½ day, day, hours.  You will receive a trial docket showing all the cases scheduled for a date certain.

Motion Hearings

Request by letter or by pleading in the form of a request for oral argument.  Please note that Judge Morse does not routinely grant hearings on motions other than where a hearing must be granted by law or court rule, e.g., motions for summary judgment.  With respect to any other motions, write a letter to the judge explaining why you believe an oral hearing should be held. If an oral argument is granted, you will be sent a written notice of the date and time for the motion. Oral arguments are usually held in the court room. Typically, only the lawyers need to appear for oral argument. Please notify the judge's secretary if you have any special requests such as a request that parties be present or if you anticipate a large number of attorneys to be involved. Arrangements for appearance by speaker phone can be made for out-of-town attorneys if you request such an appearance prior to the hearing date.

Magistrate Court Appeals

Request by letter.  If no jury trial is demanded, the case will be placed on a bench trial calendar.

Habeas Corpus

For all habeas proceedings by a person in State custody, the judge will send out a scheduling order to the parties giving notice of date and time of the hearing.   The Petitioning party should assure service is perfected upon the responding party. Motions to Dismiss from responding parties are strongly preferred before the date of the hearing, as to do so may avoid the necessity of a hearing. The judge's office will make arrangements for federal prison inmates to participate by speaker phone. A court reporter will be present for all post-conviction habeas hearings.

Download the Hearing Request Form


Adoptions

All uncontested adoption hearings are scheduled by the Clerk of Court's office. Click here for the Clerk of the Court's Contact Information. They are always held in the judge's chambers. The adoptee is generally required to be present. Feel free to bring family and friends but be aware that there are space limitations.

Temporary/Contempt Hearings

Judge Morse does not give out temporary hearing dates by telephone. To obtain a temporary hearing, please present a Rule Nisi (Show Cause) Order with a blank for the date and time to the judge's secretary. She will fill out the order and return it to you for filing and service. Please refer to Uniform Superior Court Rule 24 for the notice period, filing requirements and forms including the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit. Please make sure your contact information is included in the bottom of the Rule Nisi.

Temporary/Contempt hearings will generally be of a two (2) hour time limitation with the number of witnesses being in accordance with the Uniform Rules and each party having a total of one (1) hour cumulatively. Hence, be prepared to concentrate on your top two (2) or three (3) priorities.

Please make sure you download and complete the Hearing Request Form.


Final Hearings in Uncontested Divorces and other Uncontested Domestic Matters

Judge Morse usually conducts the hearings in uncontested (settled or unopposed) cases on Friday mornings at 9:00 a.m.  To obtain a hearing, call Judge Morse's office (make sure you have your Civil Action number available when calling between the hours of 3:00pm to 4:00pm). You will be given a date verbally. You will not receive any written notice. All documents required to finalize any case involving custody and support must be completed and signed by both parties. Both parties must attend the Transitional Parenting Seminar conducted at the Mediation Center. Parties representing themselves are strongly urged to attend the Family Law Workshop at the Mediation Center for assistance.

Family Violence Act Temporary Protective Orders Hearings

Ex parte (petitioner present only) - also known as the 30 day hearing.

The forms for Family Violence Act petitions are available at the websites of the Georgia Family Violence Commission, Georgia Legal Services and the Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia.

12 Month Hearings

Judge Morse's secretary will provide a date for the 12 month hearing at the time of the ex parte hearing.

Bench or Jury Trials

These proceedings must be requested in writing to the Judge.  A letter will be sufficient. You will receive a bench trial docket containing all the cases to be heard on a date certain. If a jury trial is requested, a pretrial order and hearing will be necessary.   Judge Morse may require use of a modified pretrial order contemplated by the Uniform Rules for bench trials that should contain your top three (3) prayers of relief.

Child Support and Parenting Plan Information

Uniform Rule 24 contains the form for parenting plans.  Click here to find the Uniform Superior Court Rules.

Child Support Worksheets may be downloaded at the website for the Georgia Commission on Child Support.

Other information about child support is available at the website for the Office of Child Support Services and the Chatham County District Attorney's Office website.

TO PRO SE (SELF-REPRESENTED) PARTIES
The resolution of your case can be greatly hampered if you fail to produce the necessary financial forms (information), Child Support worksheets and Parenting Plan information requested.

All questions about scheduling criminal cases should be directed to Judge Morse's case manager, Jessica Easley, at 912-652-7135. Please be advised a Pretrial Scheduling Order will be entered in your case that will have very important deadlines that have to be adhered to.

Judge Morse's Criminal Case Management System is as follows:

All cases in which there is no attorney of record will be assigned to Calendar Call.  All cases in which there is an attorney of record at the time of filing in Superior Court will be assigned to Status Conferences.  The Defendant's presence is required at Calendar Call. Only counsel shall attend Status Conferences.

The primary purpose of the Status Conference is to discuss the cases and initiate plea negotiations.  Preferably, the State should be prepared to present written petitions for negotiated pleas at or before the Status Conference. At the Status Conference, cases shall be set for one of the following events: Plea Hearing, Pretrial Conference or Trial Docket Call.

Defendant's presence is required at the Pretrial Conference at which the Defendant will be arraigned.  Defendants who are in pretrial detention will not be brought to the courtroom for Trial Docket Call unless specifically requested. At the Trial Docket Call, cases will be assigned trial dates.  The State's policy, unless altered in special circumstances, is to withdraw negotiated plea offers unless accepted by the time of the Trial Docket Call.

Motion hearings will be assigned once a motion is filed and a hearing is specifically requested.


Bond Hearings

You must first obtain a bond assignment from Case Management which is located on the 3rd floor of the Courthouse. Bond hearings are held in the courtroom; if the Defendant's presence is requested a written notice is required to Judge Morse's primary deputy sheriff, Madeline Pinckney, by delivering the request to the judge's office no later than 3:00 p.m. on the day prior to the bond hearing.

Important Information about Notice of Hearings

It is the Defendant's obligation and responsibility to notify Case Management in writing, through his or her attorney, of any change of address and to notify his or her bonding company.  Failure to provide a correct address may result in missing a court hearing which can result in the issuance of an arrest warrant.

Ex parte (one-sided) Communications

Under very rare circumstances, a judge may speak with a party on one side of a case without the other present; for instance in family violence matters and in emergency situations involving child custody.  In all other instances, all parties must be present to address the judge.

Any letter or other document must be sent to all parties or their lawyer and the letter or document must show that all parties or their lawyers have been sent a copy.  Failure to do so will result in the mail or document being returned to you and it will result in no action being taken by the judge on your request.


Legal Advice and Assistance

Please do not expect to be able to speak with Judge Morse on the telephone for legal advice or on the merits of your case as that would be considered an ex parte communication. Judge Morse's staff will not relay messages to him about the merits of a case as that also would be considered improper under the rules of ethics.

Neither the judge nor his secretary, case manager and staff attorney can assist you with any legal matter though they will guide you as to procedural matters such as how to obtain a hearing.

Visit Georgia Legal Services Program at www.glsp.org for more information about possibly obtaining legal advice.


Visits to the Judge's Office

Due to security procedures, only lawyers or those who have been given an appointment are permitted into a judge's office.  If you need to deliver documents that do not require a signature, they may be left at the security desk.  Runners are permitted to bring rule nisi, bond hearing petitions and similar pleadings to the judge's secretary.

ANY DOCUMENTS OR CORRESPONDENCE DELIVERED TO THE JUDGE'S OFFICE OR CHAMBERS SHOULD HAVE A COVER LETTER AS TO WHAT IS REQUESTED AND COMPLETE RETURN INFORMATION, SUCH AS NAME, ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBER AND EMAIL ADDRESS.

Failure to provide sufficient return information may cause delays in your matter being addressed.

Exceptions to this procedure are made where it is necessary to conduct a hearing in chambers.

Judge Morse will issue a ruling in most bench trials from the bench and will direct the attorney for the prevailing party to prepare a draft of the order, send it to the opposing counsel or unrepresented party and then to the judge for her signature.

In cases of motions for summary judgment, other complex motions and cases which are not be decided from the bench due to the volume of evidence or having to consult the transcript of the proceedings , the judge will issue an order as quickly as possible depending on the nature of the issues, how large the record, other matters on his docket, or all of the aforementioned.

The judge's office sends out copies of all orders upon filing to all parties or their counsel via email.

It is never a wise idea to represent one's self in a court action even if you are a trained attorney. Persons who represent themselves are usually referred to by the Latin term, "pro se," which is pronounced "pro say." Every litigant should make every effort to obtain legal advice from a lawyer. However, sometimes, people do choose to represent themselves. Pro se litigants are expected to learn about the law, to file the proper pleadings and documents and to conduct themselves in court as if he or she were an attorney. If you do represent yourself, be aware that the judge and her staff cannot advise you about the law or assist you other than with routine information such as that set out in this website.