MCFADDEN, P. J., RAY and RICKMAN, JJ.
McFadden, Presiding Judge.
dispositive issue in this appeal is whether a probate court
judge had the authority to issue a search warrant. Pursuant
to OCGA §§ 17-5-21 (a) and 17-7-20, the probate
court judge was vested with such authority. We therefore
affirm the trial court's order finding that the search
warrant was valid and denying a motion to suppress.
Facts and procedural posture.
24, 2016, law enforcement officers conducted aerial
surveillance over John Joyner's property in Screven
County and observed suspected marijuana plants. That same
day, an officer applied for and obtained a search warrant for
Joyner's residence. The search warrant was issued by the
chief judge of the Screven County Probate Court. Officers
executed the search warrant and seized numerous items from
Joyner's property. Joyner was subsequently indicted for
multiple felony offenses, including manufacturing marijuana,
possession of methamphetamine, theft by receiving stolen
property, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
filed a motion to suppress evidence of the items seized from
his property, arguing that the search warrant was invalid
because it was issued by a probate court judge. The trial
court denied the motion, finding that the probate court judge
was authorized to issue the search warrant. The trial court
issued a certificate of immediate review, and this court
granted Joyner's application for interlocutory review.
This appeal followed.
Denial of motion to suppress.
contends that the probate court judge lacked the authority to
issue the search warrant and therefore the trial court erred
in denying his motion to suppress. We disagree.
judicial officer authorized to hold a court of inquiry to
examine into an arrest of an offender against the penal laws
. . . may issue a search warrant[.]" OCGA
§ 17-5-21 (a). Accord State v. Varner, 248 Ga.
347 (283 S.E.2d 268) (1981) (search warrant may be issued by
any judicial officer authorized to hold a court of inquiry).
The judicial officers authorized to hold a court of inquiry
are set forth in OCGA § 17-7-20, which includes probate
court judges. "Any judge of a superior or state court,
judge of the probate court, magistrate, or officer
of a municipality who has the criminal jurisdiction of a
magistrate may hold a court of inquiry[.]" OCGA
§ 17-7-20 (emphasis supplied). Citing these two code
sections, our Supreme Court has explained that "Georgia
statutes vest numerous lesser courts . . . with the
jurisdiction to hear applications for search warrants and
issue search warrants upon a finding of probable cause."
State v. Lejeune, 277 Ga. 749, 751 (1) (594 S.E.2d
637) (2004) (citations omitted). Probate courts are one of
these lesser courts vested with the jurisdiction to issue
instant case, because the probate court judge was authorized
to hold a court of inquiry under OCGA § 17-7-20, the
probate court judge was also authorized to issue a search
warrant pursuant to OCGA § 17-5-21 (a). See generally
Lejeune, supra at 751-752 (finding that
magistrate courts may issue search warrants);
Varner, supra at 348 (holding that justices
of the peace are authorized to hold courts of inquiry and
thus may issue search warrants); Campbell v. State,
207 Ga.App. 366, 367-368 (2) (428 S.E.2d 111) (1993) (holding
that a municipal court judge had authority to issue a search
Joyner argues that the search warrant in this case was
invalid because there is a state court in Screven County and
OCGA § 40-13-21 (b), which is set out in the margin,
should be read to prohibit probate court judges from issuing
warrants in counties where there is also a state court. But
Joyner's reliance on OCGA § 40-13-21 (b) is
misplaced. That code section is part of our motor vehicles
code and governs the jurisdiction of probate courts in
"misdemeanor cases arising under the traffic laws of
this state[.]" OCGA § 40-13-21 (b). So even if that
code section could be construed to divest probate courts of
the authority to issue search warrants in misdemeanor traffic
cases in counties where there is a state court, it has no
applicability to the instant case, which is not a misdemeanor
traffic case and instead is a case involving multiple felony
offenses. "Accordingly, appellant's contention that
the judge was without authority to issue the search warrant
in this case is without merit." Campbell,
supra at 368 (2).