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Special Contribution


A study published in 1994 sought to determine the single most litigated topic in Georgia local government law over the past thirty years. What legal issue of local government administration had most often confronted Georgia's appellate courts over that recent but considerable span of time? The revealed answer to that inquiry commanded serious consideration-not because of its unexpectedness but rather its unequivocal conclusiveness:

Local government liability for the alleged misconduct of officers and employees dwarfs all other subtopics. For the past thirty years, liability has extracted more time and attention from Georgia's appellate courts than any other subject of local government law. "Liability" will assuredly constitute this century's thorn in the crown of local government administration.


Ironically, at that precise point in time the Georgia Supreme Court was initiating an epoch that would dramatically mesh the two surveyed facets: (a) local government liability and (b) judicial complexity.' The object of rather routine announcement, the formative issue would emerge with deceptive casualness and, over a remarkably short evolution, completely paralyze the court's analytical processes. Rarely in Georgia law has the court so promptly suffered doctrinal default upon a deed of its own doing.

Rarely has the court devolved to such devastating analytical divisiveness as that generated by the "Doctrine of Public Duty."