Bishop v. Goins, 344 Ga.App. 174 (809 S.E.2d 174)
(2017), the Court of Appeals held that OCGA § 16-5-94
(d) (3) authorizes a trial court to award a party costs and
attorney fees incurred during appellate proceedings following
the entry of a stalking-related protective order. We granted
certiorari to consider the issue, and, following an
examination of the plain language of the statute, we conclude
that OCGA § 16-5-94 (d) (3) does not permit such an
award in this case. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of
the Court of Appeals.
parties acknowledged at oral argument, neither the facts nor
the procedural posture of this case are in question. After
the Superior Court of Jasper County issued protective orders
against Steven and Jodi Bishop in favor of their neighbors,
Bernie and Michael Goins and Jana and Keith Powell ("the
Neighbors"), the Bishops appealed. The Court of Appeals
affirmed the orders in an unpublished decision. The Neighbors
then moved the trial court for costs and attorney fees
incurred as a result of the appellate proceedings, asserting
that such an award was permissible under OCGA § 16-5-94
(d) (3). The trial court granted the motions, over the
Bishops' objections, awarding the Goinses $4, 907.06 in
attorney fees against Steve Bishop and awarding the Powells
$4, 873.90 against both Jodi and Steve Bishop.
Bishops sought relief in the Court of Appeals, continuing
their argument that OCGA § 16-5-94 (d) (3) does not
authorize an award of costs and attorney fees in connection
with appellate proceedings. See Bishop, supra. The
Court of Appeals - which apparently reviewed the legal
question under an abuse-of-discretion standard - concluded
that the fee award was authorized because "nothing in
the fee provision [in OCGA § 16-5-94 (d) (3)] expressly
limits recovery of attorney fees to those incurred in trial
court litigation." Bishop, 344 Ga. at 176-179.
We subsequently granted certiorari to review the Court of
Appeals' decision, and we agree with the Bishops that the
fee award here was not authorized by statute.
now consider the text of the relevant statutory provision, we
are mindful that we must
presume that the General Assembly meant what it said and said
what it meant. To that end, we must afford the statutory text
its "plain and ordinary meaning," we must view the
statutory text in the context in which it appears, and we
must read the statutory text in its most natural and
reasonable way, as an ordinary speaker of the English
(Citations and punctuation omitted.) Deal v.
Coleman, 294 Ga. 170, 172-173 (751 S.E.2d 337) (2013).
Where the statutory text is "clear and
unambiguous," we attribute to the statute its plain
meaning, and our search for statutory meaning ends. See id.
at 173. The issue before us is purely legal and, as such, is
reviewed de novo. See Expedia, Inc. v. City of
Columbus, 285 Ga. 684, 689 (681 S.E.2d 122) (2009).
to the question of attorney fees, we recognize that,
"[g]enerally, an award of attorney fees in Georgia must
be authorized by statute or contract." Robinson v.
Williams, 280 Ga. 877, 880 (635 S.E.2d 120) (2006). At
issue here is whether the cited statutory provision
authorizes such an award. OCGA § 16-5-94 (d) states as
court may grant a protective order or approve a consent
agreement to bring about a cessation of conduct constituting
stalking. Orders or agreements may:
(1)Direct a party to refrain from such conduct;
(2) Order a party to refrain from harassing or interfering
with the other;
(3) Award costs and attorney's fees to either party; and
(4) Order either or all parties to receive appropriate
psychiatric or psychological services as a further measure to
prevent the recurrence of stalking.
statutory authorization for attorney fees is in derogation of
common law, see Hudson v. Abercrombie, 258 Ga. 729
(2) (a) (374 S.E.2d 83) (1988); Bowersv. Fulton
County, 227 Ga. 814 (1) (183 S.E.2d 347) (1971), and,
thus, must be strictly construed, see Workman v. RL BB
ACQ I-GA CVL, LLC, 303 Ga. 693 (1)(814 S.E.2d 696) ...