The Magistrate Court plays an important role for the people in the community. The court provides assistance to individuals in civil and criminal actions. An attorney is not required in this court, which makes the Magistrate Court affordable for everyone in Chatham County. The Magistrate Court serves the area of Chatham County which encompasses the City of Savannah and other municipalities including Bloomingdale, Garden City, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Thunderbolt, and Tybee Island.
Magistrate Court's jurisdiction includes civil claims of $15,000.00 or less, dispossessory proceedings (landlord/tenant), applications for and the issuance of arrest and/or search warrants and preliminary hearings. The Magistrate Court does not hold jury trials and is not a court of record. Any appeals from judgments in civil cases are made to the Superior and State Courts.
This web site has been designed to provide citizens with the most current and convenient information available regarding the process and procedures in the Magistrate court. We hope you will find this website to be a useful and convenient tool in obtaining information.
Small claims are civil matters where an individual or company is seeking compensation for the violation of a private legal right or for damages against an individual or entity. A small claim can result in a judgment for the plaintiff (the person bringing the action) or the defendant (the person the action is being filed against). A small claim can also result in the dismissal of the claim. There are numerous types of small claims including, but not limited to suit on account, suit on a note, suit on a debt, petition in trover and suit for damages.
Once a small claim has been filed, the defendant has thirty (30) days from the date of service to file an answer with the court plus an additional fifteen (15) days to open the default. If the defendant does not file an answer, the plaintiff is responsible for contacting the court after the forty-sixth (46th) day to request a default judgment or hearing.
The Magistrate Court has jurisdiction to hear landlord-tenant disputes which includes dispossessory proceedings. A Dispossessory Warrant is an action a landlord can file when seeking possession of the leased premises. Once a Writ of Possession has been issued/obtained a landlord can proceed with the eviction process to have the tenant removed from the property.
Once a tenant has been served with the Dispossessory Warrant, the tenant has seven (7) days from the date of service to file an answer with our court. If the tenant does not file an answer an eviction may be requested on the eighth (8th) day. If the tenant does file an answer a court date will be set and the plaintiff will be notified by mail of the court date. Once a writ of possession is issued, an eviction must be requested within thirty (30) days of the date of service or a new dispossessory warrant must be filed.