Counties were conceived by a rural society that looked to government to keep the records straight and the justice swift. To help Georgia counties administer state programs and conduct state courts, the first state constitution in 1778 originally created four elected county officers: the sheriff, the tax commissioner, the clerk of the superior court and the judge of the probate court.
The county's constitutional officers have powers set by law but they depend on the Board of Commissioners for general operating funds.
The Sheriff enforces the law, maintains peace in the county, and serves as the jailer.
The Tax Commissioner maintains all the county's tax records and collects and pays tax funds to the state and local governments. The tax assessor's board and board of equalization were established to ensure that everyone pays his or her fair share of taxes.
The Clerk of the Superior Court is the primary record keeper for the county court system. The office functions to maintain all the court records and supervises the registration of property transactions. Each Board of Commissioners also has its own county clerk, who is responsible for keeping the records for the board.
The Judge of the Probate Court oversees matters pertaining to vital records, marriage licenses, guardianships, and wills; and administers public oaths of office.
The Chief Magistrate assigns cases, schedules court sessions and appoints other magistrates (with the consent of the superior court judges of the judicial circuit). The chief magistrate is elected and part-time magistrates are appointed by the Board of Commissioners.
The Coroner is mandated by Georgia law to determine the cause and manner of death by an extensive investigation, which may include a post-mortem examination (autopsy). This investigation is independent of the police and/or fire department but is done in conjunction with both departments.