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Official Opinion 98-3

Official Opinion 98-3

March 18, 1998
To: 

Professional Standards Commission

Re: 

Members of the Professional Standards Commission may not continue to serve past their appointed three-year terms as they are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

You have requested an official opinion on the question of whether members of the Professional Standards Commission may continue to serve past their appointed terms until successors have been named and qualified.

Members of the Professional Standards Commission are appointed pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-983(a), which provides, in pertinent part, the following:

The commission shall consist of 18 members to be appointed by the Governor . . . . The term of office of members of the commission shall be three years . . . . All members of the commission are to be confirmed by the Senate.

The plain language of the statute establishes that members of the Commission are appointed by the governor, must be confirmed by the senate, and provides for a term of three years. However, the statute does not expressly provide that a member shall hold over until the successor is appointed and qualified.

The duties of the members of the Professional Standards Commission are set forth in O.C.G.A. § 20-2-988 and include “issu[ing] certificates for all educational personnel seeking certification;” and “hear[ing] the public, the teaching profession, and professional groups and associations on any matter of concern under the jurisdiction of the commission.” The Georgia Supreme Court has held that “[a] public officer is any ‘individual who has a designation or title given him by law, and who exercises functions concerning the public assigned to him by law. . . .’” Brown v. Scott, 266 Ga. 44, 45 (1995) (quoting Smith v. Mueller, 222 Ga. 186, 187 (1966)). See also Bradford v. The Justices of Inferior Court, 33 Ga. 332, 336-37 (1862) (a public official is “an individual [who] has been appointed or elected, in a manner prescribed by law, has a designation or title given him by law, and exercises functions concerning the public, assigned to him by law”); 1982 Op. Att’y Gen. 82-82 (following Bradford). Therefore, members of the Commission are public officers.

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 45-2-4 provides, in pertinent part, the following:

All officers of this state shall reside in this state at such places as are designated by law and shall discharge the duties of their offices until the successors are commissioned and qualified, except that public officers appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the Senate shall not hold over until their successors have been appointed and confirmed.

Since members of the Professional Standards Commission are public officers appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate and in the absence of express language allowing them to hold over, O.C.G.A. § 45-2-4 is applicable and provides that they do not hold over past their appointed terms

Based on the foregoing, it is my official opinion that members of the Professional Standards Commission may not continue to serve past their three-year terms.

Prepared by:

KIRSTEN L. SEARLE
Assistant Attorney General


But see, e.g., O.C.G.A. § 43-34-22 which expressly provides that members of the State Board of Medical Examiners “shall serve for a term of four years and until successors are appointed and qualified.”