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      2010 census causing problems in probate court

      The 2010 census could be causing changes in the probate court

      Probate Court Judge Nancy Stephenson brought to light a problem caused by the recent census that is affecting the probate court.

      Since 1985, Dougherty County has been operating as an "expanded jurisdiction" probate court, which gives the judges jurisdiction over several issues.

      The designation is based on a population of 96,000 people.

      Dougherty County has fallen below that and may lose its "expanded jurisdiction" status.

      Meaning I handle trust matters, interpretation of wills, declaratory judgments and my appeals from my decisions if people want to appeal them, says Judge Stephenson.

      If we lose that status, folks who would normally have matters finalized in probate court will have to pay for a whole new trial in superior court.

      Commissioners will write to local delegation urging them to endorse legislation that will allow for a lower population number.