The Supreme Court of Georgia is expected to issue a decision in a case of a man claiming that officials from DeKalb County’s now-defunct Recorders Court made mistakes that led him to be jailed for a month.
The high court’s Forthcoming Opinions” feature on its website noted Friday that a decision was expected Monday morning in Withers v. Schroeder, No. S17G1875.
The case stems from a suit by Bobby Schroeder, who paid a fine for a traffic infraction at the Recorders Court (before it was dismantled by the General Assembly in 2015). Recorders Court officials reported to state authorities instead that Schroeder failed to pay his fine—leading to his license being suspended, two more traffic stops, his probation being questioned, a monthlong sojourn in jail, the loss of his job and the repossession of his car before court personnel corrected the error, according to Schroeder’s suit.
A DeKalb County Superior Court judge dismissed Schroeder’s suit, holding that Recorders Court Chief Judge Nelly Withers and her court administrator enjoyed judicial and official immunity.
But last year at the Court of Appeals, Judge Christopher McFadden wrote for a panel holding that, because court officials were negligent in executing specific administrative duties, they were not immune from liability.
McFadden’s opinion also held that, while judicial immunity may shield judges from suits stemming from actions they perform in their judicial capacity, it does not extend to administrative actions such as supervising court employees and overseeing the efficient operation of a court.
The question asked by the Supreme Court when it agreed to hear the case was, “Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the petitioners were not entitled to official, judicial, or qualified immunity?”