The Civil Section of the Court Services Division is responsible for serving the civil process within Gwinnett County. Civil process includes but is not limited to small claims, divorce, child support, dispossessory actions, garnishments, evictions, and statements of claim. The civil section is also responsible for executing Probate Court Orders to Apprehend. These orders are issued to get a person involuntarily evaluated by a mental health professional.
The purpose of civil process service is to give the defendant notice of the pendency of the action against him and thus, in legal contemplation, bring him into court, service being the last step in the commencement of the action. The filing of a complaint in which a person is named as a defendant does not make him a party to the action until he is properly served. Under this rule, void service is the same as no service, and a judgment rendered by a court not having jurisdiction of the person on account of void service is absolutely null and void.
Accountability Court Surveillance Team
Terms & Definitions
Condemnation is defined as the taking of private property for public use through the power of eminent domain.
Dispossessory Proceeding is defined as a summary procedure by a landlord to oust a defaulting tenant and regain possession of the premises.
Foreclosure is defined as “to terminate a mortgager’s interest in property; to subject (property) to foreclosure proceedings”. There are two types of property than can be foreclosed upon, Real Property and Personal Property. Most of the Sheriff’s Office service is foreclosure on Personal Property. Real Property is normally foreclosed on when the defendant is not meeting payment obligations.
Notice of Foreclosure of Right to Redeem is when real property has been sold for taxes, the defendant and sometimes others are entitled to redeem the property. They generally have twelve months from the date of the tax sale to do this. They must be notified prior to the expiration of the right to redeem.
Garnishment is defined as “a statutory proceeding whereby a person’s property, money, or credits in possession or under control of, or owning by, another are applied to payment of former’s debt to a third person by proper statutory process against debtor (defendant) and garnishee (person in possession).
Garnishee is one who has money or property in his possession belonging to the defendant or who owes the defendant a debt. It is not the defendant.
Garnishee as an individual (not the defendant) – requires personal service.
Garnishee as a Corporation (not the defendant) – requires corporate service. Service is the same as outline for serving corporations.
Levy is defined as a seizure. It is the obtaining of money by legal process through seizure and sale of property; the raising of the money for which an execution has been issued. The process whereby a Sheriff or other State Official empowered by writ or other judicial directive actually seizes, or otherwise brings within their control (such as by a constructive levy) a judgment debtor’s property which is taken to secure or satisfy the judgment. The Sheriff's Office do not levy and sell firearms and/or other dangerous items.
Rule Nisi is an order for someone to appear in court at a specific date and time to show cause as to why a petition to the court should not be granted.
Subpoena (Latin “under penalty”), is defined as a writ commanding a person to appear before a court or other tribunal, subject to a penalty for failing to comply.
Witness subpoena commands the appearance of a person.
Subpoena duces tecum commands someone to bring documents, records, or other things to court.
Fieri Fascias or fi fa is defined as a writ of execution that directs a marshal or sheriff to seize and sell a defendant’s property to satisfy a money judgment. A fi fa or execution, both of which are used synonymously in Georgia, is a directive by the court to the sheriff, marshal, or other authorized officer to satisfy the judgment from the property, real and personal, of the defendant in fi fa by levying upon it.
Writ of Attachment is the act or process of taking, apprehending, or seizing persons or property, by virtue of a warrant, summons, or other judicial order, and bringing the same into custody of the court for purposes of securing satisfaction of the judgment ultimately to be entered in the action. Attachment is generally used in money demands.
Attachments may be issued for a number of reasons, including:
- Debtor resides out of state.
- Debtor moves or is about to move his domicile outside the limits of the county.
- Debtor conceals himself.
- Debtor resists legal arrest.
- Debtor is causing his property to be removed beyond the limits of the state.
Writ of Execution is a formal process issued by a court generally evidencing the debt of the defendant to the plaintiff and commanding the officer to take the property of the defendant in satisfaction of the debt.
Writ of Possession is a writ of execution employed to enforce a judgment to recover possession of land. It commands the sheriff to enter the land and give possession of it to the person entitled under the judgment.
Eviction is the action taken in court by a landowner to remove the trespasser and allow recovery of possession. In order for the landowner to prevail he must show not only that the trespasser is in wrongful possession, but that he is the rightful possessor. If the plaintiff prevails, a writ of possession is issued by the clerk of the court in which the action was heard directing the marshal or sheriff to remove defendants and their possessions from the premise and deliver quiet possession to the plaintiff.
Writs of Possession are also used to seize property other than land such as cars, trucks, boats, furniture, etc. (any personal property). There are generally three categories of Writs of Possessions that are executed by Sheriff’s Departments:
- Eviction - This is our most common category. The sheriff is commanded by the court through a Writ of Possession to “remove said defendant together with his property thereon from said premises and to deliver full and quiet possession of same to the plaintiff.
- Seizure Of Property - Usually automobiles/trucks (a legal means of "repo"), but it can be any type of property.
- Seizing And Moving A Mobile Home - Also called transportable housing which is usually on rental land and is often in a mobile home park. There are special time constraints on moving a mobile home.
For additional information contact:Civil Services at 770.822.8206