Like the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals exercises purely appellate jurisdiction. As such, a lower trial court must initially enter an order in an underlying case. After the trial court enters the order, a litigant (after following the appropriate appellate procedure) can appeal the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The type of appeal that may be filed (e.g., direct appeal, discretionary appeal, or interlocutory appeal) depends on what type of order is being challenged by the appealing party.
While the Court of Appeals has a membership of fifteen (15) judges, most appeals are presented to three-judge panels called divisions. A decision is rendered in an appeal when two or more judges in the division agree on the matter. In limited instances, such as to reconcile conflicting decisions among different divisions, the entire Court of Appeals may sit en banc to hear a particular appeal.
Under the Georgia Constitution, the Georgia Court of Appeals has fairly broad appellate jurisdiction. Rather than have an affirmative jurisdictional grant that delineates specific case matters, the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction is defined as being a fallback catch-all for any cases not included within the constitutionally-mandated jurisdiction of the Georgia Supreme Court. Furthermore, the Georgia General Assembly can, by statute, modify the classes of cases falling within the scope of the Georgia Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction.
As a practical matter, these rules mean that the most classes of Georgia trial cases fall within the appellate jurisdictional purview of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Indeed, the Georgia General Assembly has recently expanded the Georgia Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction even further, while simultaneously curbing the jurisdiction of the Georgia Supreme Court.