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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's what I have so far:

Honorable David Dodd
Judge, Probate Court of Cobb County
32 Waddell Street
Marietta, Georgia 30090

Dear Judge Dodd,

I applied for my Georgia Firearms License on November 15, 2005. It was not issued until February 21, 2006. It took 38 days longer than allowed by Georgia law.

When I inquired about the status of my application to the court staff, and questioned the delay in reference to OGCA 16-11-129, I was referred to Attorney General’s Unofficial Opinion U-78-45, which refers to law enforcement agency reports as a "condition precedent." I obtained a copy of U-78-45, and reviewed the Attorney General's unofficial advice on this matter.

I would like to point out that this opinion is not "binding" on the Probate Court of Cobb County. Rather, it is a lawyer's opinion of the law as it was in 1978. In 1978, the law relating to the issuance of a firearms license was substantially different than it is today. In fact, the opinion says, in pertinent part:

"You will note in both the 1976 and 1978 Acts that this report may initially be given to the judge by way of telephone, but must ultimately come to the judge in written form."

Today, however, the law says:

"When no derogatory information is found on the applicant bearing on his eligibility to obtain a license, a report shall not be required."- OCGA 16-11-129(d).

Since the law is now different than when the opinion was written, the opinion should no longer be considered valid as applied to today's statute.

I would also like to take the opportunity to point out that the Unofficial Opinion also ignores the fact that if any information is found after the 60 day limit, the Probate Judge may revoke the license. Because this is not mentioned in the Opinion I can only assume this came from a later amendment as well and gives yet one more reason why the three decades old Unofficial Opinion does not apply to today's circumstances.

As I previously mentioned, the law enforcement agency is no longer required to issue a report if no derogatory information is discovered. Also, "Not later than 60 days after the date of the application the judge of the probate court shall issue the applicant a license to carry any pistol or revolver if no facts establishing ineligibility have been reported . . ." OCGA 16-11-129(d).

Might I request that your office contact the Attorney General for an updated opinion that reflects current law? As you probably already know, the Attorney General will not respond to a request for an opinion by a mere citizen, but I believe that the opinion needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists. Attorney General opinions are not carved in stone but, as the Attorney General web site states, "From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete"

It is disturbing to think that, while we citizens are expected to follow both the letter and spirit of the laws of the land, our elected officials and their respective staffs seem to regard them as mere guidelines. It is my hope that a review of the applicable Codes and Opinions will result in future applicants receiving their Firearms Licenses in both a timelier manner and in accordance with Georgia state law. Thank you for your review and consideration of this matter, and thank you again for your staff's professionalism and courtesy.

Sincerely,
mzmtg
Any thoughts?
 

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mzmtg said:
Here's what I have so far:

Honorable David Dodd
Judge, Probate Court of Cobb County
32 Waddell Street
Marietta, Georgia 30090

Dear Judge Dodd,

Thank you for recently issuing my firearms license on February 21, 2006. I do wish to point out, however, that I applied on November 15, 2005, which means that your office took 38 days longer than allowed by O.C.G.A. 16-11-129(d).

May I request a favor?

The justification your office gave me for the delay was a 28 year old Attorney General’s Unofficial Opinion that refers to a law enforcement agency report as a "condition precedent." Since the state law appears so clear on the subject that a probate judge shall issue on the 60th day, I was naturally curious and recently obtained a copy of U-78-45.

I reviewed the Attorney General's unofficial advice on this matter, and I would like to point out that this opinion is not "binding" on the Probate Court of Cobb County. Rather, it is a lawyer's opinion of the law as it was in 1978. In 1978, the law relating to the issuance of a firearms license was substantially different than it is today. In fact, the opinion says, in pertinent part:

"You will note in both the 1976 and 1978 Acts that this report may initially be given to the judge by way of telephone, but must ultimately come to the judge in written form."

Today, however, the law says:

"When no derogatory information is found on the applicant bearing on his eligibility to obtain a license, a report shall not be required." OCGA 16-11-129(d).

Since the law is now different than when the opinion was written, and a report is no longer required, the opinion should no longer be considered valid as applied to today's statute.

I would also like to take the opportunity to point out that the Unofficial Opinion ignores the fact that if any information is found after the 60 day limit, the Probate Judge may revoke the license. Because this is not mentioned in the Opinion I can only assume this portion of the statute came from a later amendment as well and gives yet one more reason why the three decades old Unofficial Opinion does not apply to today's circumstances.

As I previously mentioned, the law enforcement agency is no longer required to issue a report if no derogatory information is discovered. Also, "Not later than 60 days after the date of the application the judge of the probate court shall issue the applicant a license to carry any pistol or revolver if no facts establishing ineligibility have been reported . . ." OCGA 16-11-129(d).

Might I request that your office contact the Attorney General for an updated opinion that reflects current law? As you probably already know, the Attorney General will not respond to a request for an opinion by a mere citizen, but I believe that the opinion needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists. Attorney General opinions are not carved in stone but, as the Attorney General web site states, "From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete"

It is disturbing to me personally to think that, while we citizens are expected to follow both the letter and spirit of the laws of the land, our elected officials and their respective staffs seem to regard them as mere suggestions. It is my hope that a review of the applicable Codes and Opinions will result in future applicants receiving their Firearms Licenses in a punctual manner pursuant to Georgia state law. Thank you for your review and consideration of this matter, and thank you again for your staff's professionalism and courtesy.

Sincerely,
mzmtg
Any thoughts?
Since you asked. :wink:
 

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...request for an opinion by a mere citizen, but I believe that the opinion needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists.
A little petty but I think the word "mere" has a hostile tone to it. I would replace it with ordinary or just leave it citizen.

It is disturbing to me personally to think that, while we citizens are expected to follow both the letter and spirit of the laws of the land, our elected officials and their respective staffs seem to regard them as mere suggestions.
I would remove that. The judge could assume you are talking about him and get his panties in a wad. Just my .02, take it for what it worth.

Other then that I think it is well written and explains the position.
 

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Molon Labe said:
It is disturbing to me personally to think that, while we citizens are expected to follow both the letter and spirit of the laws of the land, our elected officials and their respective staffs seem to regard them as mere suggestions.
I would remove that. The judge could assume you are talking about him and get his panties in a wad. Just my .02, take it for what it worth.
But he is talking about him! :lol:

I agree, it bothered me when I read it, and you have put an articulate voice to my conscience.

No need to upset the judge if you really want him to request an AG Opinion.
 

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I think Molon Labe's suggestions soften the language and increase the chances that Judge Dodd will give your letter the consideration it deserves.

It would be great if we had a collection of letters like these that were part of a sticky somewhere in the forum. That way when people needed a well written example to work from there would be a convenient reference available.
 

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I probably should not try this at 2:30am after a night out with friends, but here it goes anyway.

Malum Prohibitum said:
mzmtg said:
Here's what I have so far:

Honorable David Dodd
Judge, Probate Court of Cobb County
32 Waddell Street
Marietta, Georgia 30090

Dear Judge Dodd,

Thank you for recently issuing my firearms license on February 21, 2006. I do wish to point out, however, that I applied on November 15, 2005, which means that your office took 38 days longer than allowed by O.C.G.A. 16-11-129(d).

The justification your office gave me for the delay was a 28 year old Attorney General’s Unofficial Opinion that refers to a law enforcement agency report as a "condition precedent." Since the state law appears so clear on the subject that a probate judge shall issue on the 60th day, I was naturally curious and recently obtained a copy of U78-45.

I reviewed the Attorney General's unofficial advice on this matter, and I learned that this opinion is not "binding" on the Probate Court of Cobb County. Rather, it is a lawyer's opinion of the law as it was in 1978. In 1978, the law relating to the issuance of a firearms license was substantially different than it is today. In fact, the opinion says, in pertinent part:

"You will note in both the 1976 and 1978 Acts that this report may initially be given to the judge by way of telephone, but must ultimately come to the judge in written form."

Today, however, the law says:

"When no derogatory information is found on the applicant bearing on his eligibility to obtain a license, a report shall not be required." OCGA 16-11-129(d).

Since the law is now different than when the opinion was written, and a report is no longer required, the opinion should no longer be considered valid as applied to today's statute.

I would also like to take the opportunity to point out that the Unofficial Opinion ignores the fact that if any information is found after the 60 day limit, the Probate Judge may revoke the license. Because this is not mentioned in the Opinion I can only assume this portion of the statute came from a later amendment as well and gives yet one more reason why the three decades old Unofficial Opinion does not apply to today's circumstances.

As I previously mentioned, the law enforcement agency is no longer required to issue a report if no derogatory information is discovered. Also, "Not later than 60 days after the date of the application the judge of the probate court shall issue the applicant a license to carry any pistol or revolver if no facts establishing ineligibility have been reported . . ." OCGA 16-11-129(d).

May I request a favor?

Would your office contact the Attorney General for an updated opinion that reflects current law? As you probably already know, the Attorney General will not respond to a request for an opinion by a citizen, but I believe that the opinion needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists. Attorney General opinions are not carved in stone but, as the Attorney General web site states, "From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete"

It is my hope that a review by the Attorney General of the applicable Codes and Opinions will result in U78-45 being revised or withdrawn, allowing future applicants to receive their Firearms Licenses in a punctual manner pursuant to current Georgia state law. Thank you for your review and consideration of this matter, and thank you again for your staff's professionalism and courtesy.

Sincerely,
mzmtg
Any thoughts?
Since you asked. :wink:
 

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Much better. I like your changes.

May I suggest a further revision of the following paragraph?

Would your office contact the Attorney General for an updated opinion that reflects current law? As you probably already know, the Attorney General will [does] not respond to a [delete "a"] request for an opinion by [from] a[ny] citizen [of the state of Georgia], but [rather provides opinions to state officers, such as legislators, judges, or district attorneys.] I believe that the [delete "the"] opinion [delete "opinion" substitute "Unofficial Opinion U78-45] needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists. Attorney General opinions are not carved in stone but, as the Attorney General web site states, "From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete"
 

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So it reads as follows:

Would your office contact the Attorney General for an updated opinion that reflects current law? As you probably already know, the Attorney General does not respond to requests for an opinion from any citizen of the state of Georgia, but rather provides opinions to state officers, such as legislators, judges, or district attorneys. I believe that Unofficial Opinion U78-45 needs to be revised to reflect the statute as it currently exists. Attorney General opinions are not carved in stone but, as the Attorney General web site states, "From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete"


:?:
 

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Too much information, I suppose. I tried for an hour, and I finally had to break that up into two posts to get the site to accept it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Malum Prohibitum said:
Just curious whether you ever finalized a draft.
No.

I also just moved out of Cobb County. Should I send something anyway?
 

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Couldn't hurt.

The goal is to get a Probate Judge to actually request an opinion from the Attorney General. Obviously, the more judges we push, the higher the chances are that one of them might actually do it.

:wink:
 

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I never did hear back from Judge Mary Cranford here in Coweta after sending my last letter. I agree that the more letters that are sent, the better the odds are for some action.

Manwell
 
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