Georgia Supreme Court Overrules Exception to the Requirement that Certificate of Immediate Review be Obtained for Interlocutory Appeals

CASE UPDATES

By Joshua Silk

Recently, in an appeal arising out of the highly publicized Tara Grinstead murder case, the Georgia Supreme Court overruled its prior precedent and eliminated an exception to the requirement that litigants must obtain a certificate of immediate review from the trial court before pursuing an interlocutory appeal not otherwise authorized by O.C.G.A. § 5-6-34(a).

In Waldrip v. Head, 272 Ga. 572, 575 (2000), the Court established an exception to the certificate requirement where (1) the case presented an important issue of first impression concerning a recently enacted statute for which precedent was desirable; (2) dismissal would deny the litigant the right of appellate review in this state; or (3) consideration of the trial court order as “final” served the interest of judicial economy. Accordingly, in Waldrip the Supreme Court determined that it could consider interlocutory appeals where it disagreed with the trial court concerning the need for immediate appellate review of an interlocutory order.

In Duke v. State, 306 Ga. 171 (2019), Duke moved the trial court for public funding for expert witnesses and investigators. The trial court denied the motions and did not grant Duke’s request for a certificate of immediate review. Duke then moved the Supreme Court to stay the proceedings and applied for interlocutory appeal under Waldrip. The Supreme Court dismissed the application and expressly overruled Waldrip. Noting that the Court had erred in Waldrip by “stepp[ing] off the solid stone path of the statutory text”, the Court made clear that Waldrip’s creation of a judicial exception was incorrect.

The result is, unless interlocutory appeal is authorized by O.C.G.A. § 5-6-34(a), or a constitutional guarantee would be violated, parties must obtain a certificate of appeal from the trial court to obtain interlocutory review. Otherwise, appellate review is authorized only once a final order is issued.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joshua Silk is a Senior Attorney with Shamp Jordan & Woodward where his practice focuses on cases involving medical malpractice, catastrophic injuries resulting from trucking wrecks, products liability, constitutional torts, and class actions. Josh currently serves on the GTLA Verdict Editorial Board and can be reached at silk@sjwtriallaw.com.

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