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Court Services

Address:
Pine Lake Municipal Court
459 Pine Drive
Pine Lake, GA 30072
404-292-4250, Ext. 1


Pay Citations Online

 

The Pine Lake Municipal Court is the judicial branch of the City of Pine Lake.

Municipal Court operates under the laws of the State of Georgia and tries all misdemeanor traffic and criminal cases (with some limitations), code enforcement cases and city ordinance violations that occur within the city limits of Pine Lake. 

Traffic/Misdemeanor Arraignment Court is usually held the first and third Thursdays of the month. Traffic/Misdemeanor Trial Court is usually held the last Thursday of the month. Court always commences at 2:00 pm.

Printable 2018 Schedule 

Court Services Personnel

Judge L'Erin Barnes Wiggins

Judge – L’Erin Barnes Wiggins

As the municipal court judge for the city, Wiggins handles adjudication of traffic and misdemeanor offenses that occur in Pine Lake. With over 13 years of experience as an attorney, she owns her law firm where she practices local government law and criminal defense. She is a 2001 graduate of Spelman College and 2004 graduate of Howard University School of Law.

L'Erin is an active member of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, Gate City Bar Association, Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and a host of other professional and community organizations. 

 

 

City SolicitorSolicitor – Otanya Clarke

As Court Solicitor, Attorney Clarke represents the City of Pine Lake during court proceedings regarding violations of state traffic laws and city ordinances. She has over 14 years of experience as a practicing attorney and is a partner at the law firm of Clarke Law, LLC. Graduating cum laude from North Carolina Central University School of Law, she served on law journal, earned the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship and contributed significant legal research for published work on attorney-client privilege. As a Presidential Scholar, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in English from Hampton University. 

Presently, Otanya is a proud member of the National Bar Association, The Gate City Bar Association and a host of other professional organizations.

 

 

Court Clerk Jennifer Cook

Clerk of Court /Court Administrator – Jennifer A. Cook

As Clerk of the Court, Cook ensures that Court runs smoothly and that rulings from the judge are carried out efficiently and accurately. She is the only full time Court employee and is in the office every day to answer questions and accept payment for fines. She ensures that all court records are kept current and that Pine Lake Municipal Court is in compliance with all State and Federal requirements.

Cook has many years of municipal experience, working for the City of Douglasville in several roles: Court Administrator, Deputy Court Clerk and GCIC operator and TAC for the Police Department. She started with the City of Pine Lake in 2017.

Certified as a GCIC operator/TAC – August 1999, Yearly Court Clerk Certification since 2000, Paralegal Certification from UGA in 2013

Email: jennifercook@pinelakega.com

 

Deputy Court Clerk Martha McMillan

Deputy Court Clerk – Martha McMillan

As Deputy Court Clerk, McMillan assists the Court Clerk during Court sessions to keep the process moving quickly and efficiently. She is also in the office part time to assist those who call or come in with questions or payments.

McMillan has worked previously for the City of Lithonia as TAC/Records Clerk for the Police Department and for the City of Decatur as Court Clerk. She started with the City of Pine Lake in 2017.

Certified as a GCIC operator – 2007,  Certified as a TAC – 2008, Yearly Court Clerk certification since 2017

 

Additional Information

The Judge and Solicitor are only here during court sessions. They do not have an office here and are not available to discuss your case prior to your court date.

If needed, Pine Lake Municipal Court provides a court interpreter at no charge to the defendant. A court appointed attorney may be provided upon approval by the Court. The Court may assess a $50 application fee for court appointed counsel. 

Professional Probation Services does not have an office at the Municipal Court. Probation services are present during court sessions. To reach Professional Probation Services, please call 404-373-6337.

Videos, photography and recordings in the Courtroom are subject to Court approval.

Municipal Court staff is not available in office during court sessions. Please be aware, on court days, a staff member may not be available in the office.  

NOTE: Court employees cannot give legal advice or recommend attorneys. You should always consult an attorney of your choice to obtain legal advice.

NOTE TO ATTORNEYS: You may file Entry of Appearances, Leaves of Absence, Conflicts, Motions, and other pleadings via email to jennifercook@pinelakega.com

Court Guidance

The following topics provide some guidance as you prepare for court. Click on the topic for additional information. This information is not legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Court Proceedings and Pleas

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is the process used by the Court to advise you of the charges pending against you. More importantly, it is for you to tell the Court your plea to the charges.

What is a plea?

A plea is your response, as the Defendant, to the charges pending against you. Your plea can be one of the following. Please note that you may enter a different plea to each charge if you have multiple charges pending against you. For advice on how to plea, please contact an attorney.

Not Guilty

Pleading not guilty means you are denying guilt and seeking a trial by either judge or jury. A trial is the process in which the solicitor (attorney for the City) must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Youi also have a constitutional right to remain silent during a trial. You have a right to an attorney during all proceedings, including trial. You are innocent until proven guilty.

Guilty

Pleading guilty is an admission of guilt whereby the Court enters appropriate sentence, which may include fines, probation, and/or jail. The Court’s jurisdiction cannot exceed $1000 in fines per charge and 12 months in jail per charge for all misdemeanor cases, which includes traffic. The jurisdiction of this Court in city code violations is limited to $1000 in fines per charge and 6 months in jail per charge. A plea of guilty waives your right to a trial. A plea of guilty may have certain consequences to your traffic and/or criminal record. You should consult an attorney regarding those consequences.

Nolo Contendere

A plea of Nolo is a matter of court discretion. Nolo Contendre is Latin for No Contest and means that you are neither admitting nor denying the charges. Rather, you are not contesting the charges and do not want a trial. You will be sentenced as if you have plead guilty but a plea of Nolo may have certain benefits in certain traffic offenses. You should contact an attorney regarding those benefits and if they are available to you.

Explanation of Your Rights

Constitutional Rights

You have guaranteed constitutional rights in this or in any other court:

  • The right to have counsel represent you at every stage of the proceedings. If you cannot afford counsel, counsel can be appointed if you are indigent according to federal poverty guidelines.
  • The burden of proof always remains upon the City of Pine Lake to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt to the trier of fact.
  • The presumption of innocence remains with you throughout the trial.
  • You have the right to remain silent, and your silence will not be used against you.
  • You also have the right to testify in a trial if you give up your right to remain silent.
  • You have the right to appeal the sentence and judgment of the court within 30 days of the judgment in accordance with Title 5 of the Georgia Code.

Pleas That Must Be Heard By The Court

  • Any offense that involves loss of driving privileges
  • Any offense that involves incarceration
  • Any offenses set by the Judge, including:
    • Driving Under the Influence
    • Driving on a Suspended License
    • No Insurance
    • Reckless Driving
    • Aggressive Driving
    • Possession of Marijuana less than one ounce
    • Fleeing/Attempting to Elude
    • Theft by Shoplifting
    • Speeding Under 21 Years of Age
    • Speeding 4th or more speeding citations in two years
    • Certain City Ordinance violations

If you are unsure if your charge is a mandatory court appearance, please call the Court.

Basic Rules of Court Conduct

When Appearing In Court

  • Be on time for court.
  • Dispose of any food or drinks before entering the courtroom.
  • Stand when the Judge enters and leaves the courtroom.
  • Stand when you are speaking to the Judge.
  • Speak clearly when you respond to the Judge’s questions.
  • Always address the Judge as “Your Honor.”
  • Never interrupt the Judge or other court personnel. If you are unsure of what you heard, wait until the Judge or other personnel has finished speaking before asking a question.
  • Enter and leave the courtroom quietly as to not disturb others.
  • Only approach the bench when instructed to do so.
  • Turn off all electronic devices (this excludes hearing aids, or any item used for impairment).

Respect

The courtroom is a place of order and structure. You should at all times act in a respectful manner when in the presence of the Judge, Clerks, Solicitor, attorneys, probation officers, court officers and other persons attending court. Once the Court has made a ruling in your case, continue to be respectful as you exit the courtroom and in your interactions with any court personnel. Attempts to disrupt the Court before or after the Judge has made a ruling may result in contempt of court charges, fines, and possibly jail time.

Dressing for Court

If you are appearing in court you should dress nicely and in a manner that shows respect for the court. Below are examples of things that you should not wear in court:

  • Sunglasses
  • Any clothing depicting violence, sexual acts, profanity, or illegal drugs
  • Tube or halter tops/plunging necklines/midriffs
  • Ripped or torn jeans
  • Mini skirts or short shorts
  • Baggy pants that fall below the waist
  • Muscle shirts (usually worn as undergarments)
  • Please remove all baseball caps or personal head coverings (exceptions made for religious head coverings)

If you are not dressed properly, you will be asked to leave the courtroom and return at a later time or date. This will delay your hearing and require you to appear in court more than once.

Security Precautions and Prohibited Items

Security Precautions:

Before entering the court you will go through a security checkpoint. You will be asked to walk through a metal detector. A POST certified officer will use a wand to check for prohibited items. You will be asked to place all items from your pockets, as well as any other items with you, on the table next to the metal detector. This may include belts, jewelry, or any other item being brought into the Court. The officer will search any bags, packages, or personal belongings that will be taken into the courtroom. If you refuse to cooperate, you may be denied entry.

Prohibited Items:

Items that should not enter the Municipal Court Building:

  • Weapons of any kind
  • Mace or OC spray
  • Cell phones and electronic equipment are allowed, but must be turned off (unless allowed on by the Court)
  • Food and beverages

Children in the Courtroom

All persons are welcome to court; however, please be aware that many topics discussed in the courtroom may not be appropriate for children and may be hurtful or confusing.