A GCO member recently received his renewal GFL after waiting almost 8 years since he applied. The member had been cited for something that, if still pending as an open case, could render him ineligible for a GFL. In this instance, however, the member never was prosecuted and the “case” was “dead docketed” by the municipal court before which the member was taken. The word “case” is in quotations because the charge was not something which could be tried in municipal court. The member merely appeared before the municipal court for warrant and bonding
purposes. Thus, no “case” ever was opened and no indictment, accusation, or information was obtained. The municipal court instead “dead docketed” the case. For those who might not be familiar with the term, “dead docketing” is a device used in Georgia to dispose of a case without truly disposing of it. Usually done upon the motion of the prosecutor when the prosecutor does not want to prosecute, when a court places a case on the “dead docket,” it generally stays there. It only can be placed on an active docket upon the order of the court. Thus, a dead docketed case is, for almost all purposes, the same as a dismissed case. The only difference is that, technically, the court (and not the prosecutor) has the power to revive a dead docketed case.
In the GCO member’s instance, the municipal court purported to dead docket a case that had not yet been commenced. The probate court, however, interpreted the dead docketed case to be one that still could be reinstated upon the order of the municipal court (even though the statute of limitations had long since run). Ironically, the probate court agreed with GCO attorneys that the GFL could be issued if the record of the case were expunged. The irony is that the “case” does not go away with expungement of the record. If the case could be revived before expungement, it could be revived after expungement. The member applied several years ago to have the record expunged, and the application was denied. GCO requested reconsideration of the expungement application, pointing out that the member was statutorily
entitled to an expungement under the circumstances. The reconsidered application was granted.
The probate court re-ran the member’s background check and, 7 years and 9 months after the application for a renewal GFL was made, the GFL was issued.
Congratulations to our most patient member!