Message from Chief Judge Brendan F. Murphy
Greetings! During this difficult time, the Magistrate Court remains open 24/7 to carry out essential judicial functions concerning public safety and our most basic Constitutional rights. On this page, you will find updates about our adjusted operations. If you have any questions, please call our Clerk’s Office at (770) 528-8900. A real person will answer the phone to assist.
When this pandemic has passed, we will work hard to set additional calendars to ensure each matter is efficiently and fairly heard in a timely manner. You, your case, and everyone’s good health matter to the People’s Court: Please stay put, and stay healthy!
Judge Brendan F. Murphy, Chief Magistrate of Cobb County
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Evictions – Updated March 1, 2021
Updated March 1, 2021
You, your case, and everyone’s good health matter to the Magistrate Court! #MaskUpCobb
This is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal advice about your individual case.
Here are this month’s key updates:
(1) The Cobb County Board of Commissioners appropriated approximately $22.8 million in federal rental assistance funding to five (5) total providers: The Center for Family Resources, HomeFree-USA’s Cobb County HomeSaver for Renters, MUST Ministries, Star-C, and Sweetwater Mission. Tenants and/or Landlords may apply for the program through any provider as the terms and eligibility requirements are identical. A provider will also be available at the courthouse each Friday when dispossessory proceedings are scheduled to ensure that everyone that qualifies has an opportunity to apply.
(2) In a February 23, 2021 Order Amending Courthouse Safety Guidelines for all Classes of Courts and Reinstating the Plan to Resume Jury Trials in the Cobb Judicial Circuit, Chief Superior Court Judge Robert D. Leonard, II vacated his December 22, 2020 Order limiting in-person proceedings and allowed courts to “resume in-person proceedings…in strict compliance with public health guidelines and guidance issued by the Supreme Court.”
(3) The CDC’s limited, temporary halt in certain residential evictions remains in place until “at least March 31, 2021.”
(4) The Magistrate Court is returning to the Fall 2020 dispossessory hearing scheduling procedures. Residential, non-payment cases will not be automatically set but may be heard by written request. All other dispossessory cases with an Answer filed will be automatically set for a hearing.
The Statewide Judicial Emergency shall terminate on March 9, 2021 at 11:59 p.m., unless otherwise extended.
Cobb Chief Judge Order on Resumption of Jury Trials - Operating under COVID
Magistrate COVID-19 Guidance
Statewide Judicial Extension Order Magistrate
Memo Court Operating Procedures Magistrate
Order Declaring Judicial Emergency Magistrate
Cobb Judicial Circuit Judicial Emergency Order
Clerk’s Office Information
Supplemental Operating Guidelines
Limited Operations Procedures
Please read this Notice before entering the Clerk’s Office
You, your case, and everyone’s good health matter to the Magistrate Court of Cobb County!
- Please DO NOT ENTER the Clerk’s Office if you are sick or have been exposed to someone showing symptoms of the corona virus/COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or trouble breathing. Everyone coming to the courthouse shall have a mask or face covering on to enter the building.
- Please call (770) 528-8900 if your question or matter can be resolved with a phone call.
- If you have internet access, please consider e-filing on-line at efile.cobbcounty.org for civil cases, including Small Claims, Garnishments, and Dispossessories (Evictions).
Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an amended Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency until June 12, 2020. The Order “suspends, tolls, extends, and otherwise grants relief from any deadlines or other time schedules or filing requirements imposed by otherwise applicable statutes, rules, regulations, or court orders, whether in civil or criminal cases or administrative matters.” All deadlines—including for initial filing, service, answers, and fine payments—are suspended during the judicial emergency.
The Clerk’s Office remains open to the public with minimal staff. However, for the below cases, all hearings have been cancelled. You will be sent a new court date when the judicial emergency ends.
- Small Claims Hearings
- Dispossessory Hearings (Landlord/Tenant Evictions)
- Noncustodial Bond Revocation Motions that do not present an immediate safety concern
- Noncustodial Probable Cause Hearings
- Noncustodial Ordinance Matters
- TPO Compliance Calendar
Please Stay Put and Stay Healthy! Thank you for your cooperation!
Public Hearings – Social Distancing Notice
Please read this Notice before entering the courtroom
You, your case, and everyone’s good health matter to the Magistrate Court!
- This is an open courtroom. The public’s access to court proceedings is a bedrock principle of our Constitutional system of justice.
- Chief Justice Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an amended Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency until June 12, 2020. The Order states, “To the extent court proceedings are held, they should be done in a manner to limit the risk of exposure...”
- Please DO NOT ENTER the courtroom if you are sick or have been exposed to someone showing symptoms of the corona virus/COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or trouble breathing.
- If are requesting a continuance for any reason, please call (770) 528-8915.
- Before each case starts, it will be announced in the lobby. If you are only interested in a particular case, you can wait safely outside without fear of missing the hearing.
- In the courtroom, please maintain a safe “social distance” of six (6) feet apart from others.
- Counsel and parties should limit their movement in the courtroom and present from the podium and counsel table, unless directed by the Court.
- The Court has “authority to control decorum in the courtroom...” UMCR 18. The Court will exercise its authority on a case-by-case basis in the best interest of public health while respecting its fundamental duty to maintain an open courtroom.
Please Stay Put and Stay Healthy! Thank you for your cooperation!
(1) The CDC’s limited, temporary halt in certain residential evictions for non-payment of rent has been extended until June 30, 2021. The latest Order has some clarifications and modifications that are covered below.
(2) The Magistrate Court has approximately 2,000 cases on hold due to the CDC Order. With $22.8 million in rental assistance available in Cobb County, the Court will begin to schedule these held cases for hearing as of April 16, 2021. Going forward, all dispossessory cases that require a hearing will be set down for a court date. As the CDC Order is still in effect, it is important to note: if a CDC Declaration is provided in a residential, nonpayment of rent case, a Stay Order will be entered at the hearing and NO WRIT OF POSSESSION MAY ISSUE. However, scheduling these required hearings will ensure that all parties have an opportunity to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution and access rental assistance as required by the CDC Order.
(3) Cobb County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (“ERA”) begins taking applications on April 1, 2021. Please visit www.cobbcounty.org/ERA for program terms and eligibility. Here is some key information:
(a) Landlords and/or Tenants may apply.
(b) Please apply as soon as possible. There does NOT have to be an active eviction case pending to apply or receive assistance.
(c) Please apply with only one provider.
(d) If you’ve previously received assistance from one of the providers, please reapply with the same provider.
(e) All five providers are administering the identical federal program with the same initial application, documentation requirements, and ability to pay up to twelve (12) months of rent/utilities needed due to a COVID-19 hardship.
Yes. During this difficult time of pandemic and economic disruption, the Magistrate Court of Cobb County has remained open and working twenty-four (24) hours/day, every day. The Clerk’s Office has continued to be accessible to the public in-person and by telephone during regular business hours. Because of the dedication and innovation of our own essential workers, the doors of the People’s Court never closed to our community.
On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a federal Agency Order entitled Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19 (“CDC Order”). The CDC Order states that landlords “shall not evict any covered person from any residential property…during the effective period of the Order.” The CDC Order does not apply to commercial properties.
No. The CDC Order halts certain evictions from September 4, 2020 – June 30, 2021 regardless of whether a dispossessory affidavit was filed or Writ of Possession issued prior to September 4, 2020.
The CDC Order covers residential tenants, lessees, and residents that provide a “Declaration” under penalty of perjury directly to their landlord indicating that:
- The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
- The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
- The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
- The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
- Eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting—because the individual has no other available housing options.
A Declaration form can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/declaration-form.pdf. This form does NOT have to be used so long as the signed and sworn Declaration document—electronic or hard copy, in English or another language—provided by the tenant to the landlord includes all required elements of the CDC Order. Each person seeking to invoke the CDC Order’s protections should provide a Declaration to his/her landlord. However, “In certain circumstances…it may be appropriate for one member of the residence to provide an executed [D]eclaration on behalf of the other adult residents…”
No. The CDC Order states, “Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should…complete and provide a declaration.”
The Magistrate Court will accept a Declaration for filing from any party, but the CDC Order does not require it to be filed with any court. The tenant is to provide the Declaration to the landlord.
The CDC Order does not include any deadline by which a tenant must provide a Declaration to his/her landlord. Covered tenants that wish to avail themselves of the CDC Order’s protections should provide the Declaration to the landlord as soon as possible to limit confusion.
There is no provision in State or local law authorizing the Magistrate Court to hear a challenge to a Declaration provided to a landlord by a tenant. However, “false or misleading statements or omissions may result in criminal and civil actions for fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment.”
In residential non-payment of rent cases, if a Declaration is provided to a landlord after filing a dispossessory affidavit, before an Answer is filed, once a hearing is set, at or after the court date, or even at the time of execution of a Writ, the eviction process must be halted. The Court will stay—not dismiss—the case. Regardless of when a Declaration is provided, parties must fulfill their regular legal obligations including filing an Answer and appearing in court. Failure to do so could result in dismissal of a case or default judgment. Note: A Declaration has no effect on commercial cases or those that exclusively allege ground(s) other than non-payment of rent.
Yes. Tenants must continue to pay rent. Unpaid rent, late fees, penalties, and/or interest are accruing during the CDC’s temporary halt on evictions. At the end of the moratorium, a landlord “may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make [a tenant] subject to eviction…”
Yes. Residential evictions may proceed on grounds other than non-payment of rent, including the following from the CDC Order:
- Nothing in this Order precludes evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (1) engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (2) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (3) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; (4) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (5) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest.
In the March 29, 2021 updated CDC Order, the CDC has made it clear that “engaging in criminal activity” does NOT include criminal trespass “where the underlying activity is a covered person remaining in a residential property despite nonpayment of rent.” Further, the CDC clarified that “threatening the health or safety of other residents” does NOT include “individuals who are confirmed to have, who have been exposed to, or who might have COVID-19 and take reasonable precautions…”
Federal authorities are responsible for enforcing the CDC Order. A person violating the CDC Order may be subject to fines and/or federal jail time.
No. Due to unprecedented COVID-19 spread, Chief Superior Court Judge Robert D. Leonard, II issued an Order applicable to the entire Cobb Judicial Circuit limiting “in-person proceedings to essential functions of the court only” for the duration of the statewide judicial emergency or until further order of the Superior Court. Finding that dispossessory cases do not meet the definition of essential function and cannot be heard exclusively by video conference, Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan F. Murphy previously entered an Order cancelling all Landlord/Tenant hearings in the Magistrate Court. That Order has been subsequently amended to allow limited emergency hearings to proceed.
For residential non-payment cases, the Court has temporarily paused the automatic scheduling of eviction hearings. Cases are NOT being dismissed and will be (re)scheduled upon expiration of the CDC Order. If the CDC Order is stayed by a federal court that covers the Northern District of Georgia or amended/superseded by Congressional action, the Court will resume scheduling residential non-payment cases. All other dispossessory hearings are proceeding as usual.
The CDC Order does not provide a deadline by which tenants must provide landlords with the Declaration. The CDC Order never requires a copy of the Declaration be provided to the Court. Therefore, if a tenant failed to file an Answer or appear for a hearing, an eviction still must immediately stop if a Declaration is later produced in a residential nonpayment case. Even if a full hearing was held in the Magistrate Court and a Writ issued in a residential nonpayment case, an eviction would have to be immediately halted if a Declaration was produced as late as the time of the eviction or even during an eviction.
These omissions in the CDC Order could lead to confusing and potentially catastrophic results for landlords and tenants alike including last minute legal challenges at the time and place of eviction, criminal penalties, or wrongful eviction. Therefore, we have paused automatically scheduling residential non-payment cases until such time as we are able to adjudicate these important matters under Georgia law in a courtroom with certainty and finality.
Yes. If the CDC Order’s protections are inapplicable to a case on its face or a landlord has not received the required Declaration from a tenant in a residential, nonpayment of rent case, then he/she may submit an Emergency Request for Dispossessory Hearing. For good cause shown—including but not limited to physical violence, threats, criminal activity, other safety issues, and/or property destruction—the Court may set a case down for hearing.
Landlords should understand that under the CDC Order if a Declaration is subsequently provided, even after the issuance of a Writ, the eviction must be halted. If the landlord receives a Declaration from the tenant at any time, the eviction must be halted. Eviction after receipt of a Declaration may result in the landlord facing federal criminal penalties including fines and/or jail time. Note: A Declaration has no effect on commercial cases or those that exclusively allege ground(s) other than non-payment of rent.
Yes. If a landlord has not received the required Declaration from a tenant, then he/she may submit an Affidavit swearing that the landlord has not received the Declaration nor accepted any money from the tenant. At that point, the Court may issue a Writ in default cases or release a previously-issued Writ for execution.
Landlords should understand that under the CDC Order if a Declaration is provided in a residential non-payment of rent case at any time, even after the issuance of a Writ, the eviction must be halted. Eviction after receipt of a Declaration may result in the landlord facing federal criminal penalties including fines and/or jail time. Note: A Declaration has no effect on commercial cases or those that exclusively allege ground(s) other than non-payment of rent.
Yes. If you are served, you MUST answer on or before the seventh day after service as required by law and explained in the Summons. If you did not file a timely Answer, please call the Magistrate Court at (770) 528-8900.
You may answer:
- On-line at https://efile.cobbcounty.org or
- In-person at the Magistrate Court of Cobb County, Civil Division, Third Floor, 32 Waddell Street, Marietta, Georgia 30090 on Mondays – Fridays, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
If you do not answer on or before the seventh day after service, a Writ of Possession may be issued without a hearing, and a judgment against you for money damages may be entered.
Yes, subject to the below COVID-19 protocols, all parties must appear in court if they receive a court date notice, even if a Declaration has been provided to the landlord.
If a landlord fails to appear, the case may be dismissed and/or a judgment for damages on a counterclaim may be awarded. If a tenant fails to appear, a Writ of Possession may be issued and/or money judgment awarded.
A mask or face covering is required to enter the courthouse. Your temperature may be taken upon entry. Please maintain social distancing at all times and print out any evidence for the court.
Please do not appear in person if you are sick or have been in contact with someone known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19:
- Have you had a recent onset of coughing?
- Have you had any recent difficulty breathing?
- Have you been around anyone who has been outside of the country in the last 14 days, or
- Have you been around anyone who has been diagnosed with or is under investigation for potential COVID-19 infection?
If your answer to any of the above questions is YES, please contact the Court at (770) 528-8900.
The Magistrate Court has developed detailed protocols for in-person proceedings including setting limited, staggered calendars throughout the day in lieu of large calendar calls, requiring social distancing in the courtroom and opening additional waiting areas, mandating face coverings, making hand sanitizer available, and establishing temperature screening.
For more information, please see the “Updated Coronavirus Court Operating Procedures Memorandum” issued by Cobb Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Leonard on February 23, 2021 and the Supplemental Operating Guidelinesfor the Magistrate Court of Cobb County during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Judicial Emergency, effective July 16, 2020.”
The Magistrate Court has no role in the execution of Writs. Please contact the Sheriff’s Office Civil Division at (770) 499-4641 for the latest information.
Contact a lawyer and stay in contact with your landlord or management company to determine what options may be available to you during this difficult time. Please see below for information about rental assistance that may be available.
Each situation is unique, and the CDC Order requires “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit” in residential nonpayment of rent cases. Contact an attorney, review your lease, or discuss partial payments with your landlord or management company directly.
Yes. The Cobb County Board of Commissioners has appropriated federal funding for rental assistance. The Board selected five (5) non-profit organizations to administer funding. Landlords and/or tenants may apply for the program through any ONE provider as the terms and eligibility requirements are identical. Please visit www.cobbcounty.org/ERA for more information and contact ONE of the below rental assistance providers directly for an application:
The Center for Family Resources
Cobb Co. HomeSaver for Renters
Please see Cobb County government’s COVID Assistance Center at https://www.cobbcounty.org/communications/news/cobb-covid-assistance-center for comprehensive information about help that is available during this difficult time in our community.
Magistrate Court does not handle residential property foreclosures. Please speak with an attorney or your mortgage company.
Please call Cobb Legal Aid (770-528-2565) or the Cobb County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (770-424-2947) for help finding legal representation. No or low cost options may be available.
Pretrial Court Services
During the statewide judicial emergency, the Pretrial Services Division will operate with minimal staff Monday-Thursday and be closed on Fridays. Pretrial will primarily supervise Defendants via phone, e-mail, fax, ankle monitor, and other electronic communications but may require a Defendant to appear in-person if necessary. All previously scheduled in-person meetings (intake, drug screens, check-ins, address changes, etc.) are cancelled. Please e-mail or fax in any required documentation or address changes. Pretrial may seek an ACR warrant if an alleged bond violation presents an immediate safety concern.
INTAKE: Upon release, Defendants should NOT report in-person for intake. Rather, within 24 hours of release, the Defendant shall call (770) 528-8950 to conduct intake via telephone and e-mail. If you do not reach an officer immediately, please leave a voicemail message with your name and contact information. A pretrial officer will return your call.
REPORTING: Please call the report-in line at (770) 528-8957 to report by phone.
Pretrial Officer Contact information
|Diamond Ash||770-528-8955||[email protected]|
|Matty Armbruster||770-852-3543||[email protected]|
|Stacy Davenport (Nanoff)||770-528-8930||[email protected]|
|Adriene Glasper||770-528-8958||[email protected]|
|Selina Jacobs||770-852-3263||[email protected]|
|Heather Queen||770-528-8922||[email protected]|
|Sonjetta Tiller||770-528-8956||[email protected]|
|Lauren Watson||770-528-3076||[email protected]|
Court Program Updates
All mediations suspended through June 12, 2020 OR through expiration of judicial emergency order.
Please note: The Magistrate Court will conduct limited daily wedding ceremonies BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Please call 770-528-8900 to make an appointment. Due to social distancing requirements and in the best interest of public health, each couple will only be able to have up to five (5) additional guests attend the courtroom ceremony. All in attendance must wear masks, though the marrying couple will be allowed to remove their masks during the ceremony. Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to celebrating with you.
Other Court Updates
For info on other Cobb Courts (Probate, State, Superior, etc.) visit the main Cobb County COVID-19 page, and refer to the COURT SYSTEM Information section.