The position of 首席法官 was created by the Georgia Constitution in 1983 when Justices of the Peace and Small Claim Court Judges became Magistrates. To qualify as a Magistrate, an individual must have resided in the county for at least one year preceding his or her term of office, 25岁, and have a high school diploma. Other qualifications may be imposed by local legislation. There are 159 首席法官s and 346 Magistrates in Georgia.
The 首席法官 of each county assigns cases, schedules court sessions, and appoints other Magistrates (with the consent of the 高等法院 judges of the judicial circuit). The 桃县 Magistrate and most other 首席法官s are elected in partisan, countywide elections to four-year terms. In some counties, 首席法官s run in nonpartisan elections. In a few counties the 首席法官 is appointed by the local 立法 代表团.
Magistrates may grant bail in cases in which the setting of bail is not exclusively reserved to a judge of another court. If a defendant submits a written request for a jury trial, then cases may be removed to Superior or State Court.