Backlog of cases: Delay in second round of federal grants could affect court speed

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Court circuits that have requested their share of millions in remaining federal grants aimed at resolving backlogs of cases will have to wait a little longer to find out whether and to what extent administrators have granted their request.

The second-round scholarships were foreseen announced this week. But the Georgia Judicial Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Funding the US Bailout Act announced a delay instead.

Nathan Deal Judicial Center, home of the Georgia Supreme Court and the Atlanta State Court of Appeals. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

The committee responsible for distributing American Rescue Plan Act grants to approved court circuits throughout the state had been program to decide awards for the second round of grants on Thursday, with winners announced the following day, February 4.

But a Georgia Supreme Court spokesperson said Thursday that the next round of grants is still being determined.

“ARPA’s ad hoc committee is still reviewing nominations and will meet on February 18 to determine awards,” Georgia Supreme Court public information officer Kathleen Joyner emailed. .

“Funding is needed”

More than two dozen state court circuits applied in the first round of grants, which ended Nov. 30.

Of the 28 applications submitted, the committee awarded 26 judicial circuits, with some receiving the maximum per circuit of $2 million.

Chief Judge Asha F. Jackson of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit.  Courtesy picture Chief Judge Asha Jackson of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. (Courtesy picture)

Among the winners is the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, whose chief justice has used his funds to improve jury selection and case processing speed.

Elsewhere in the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit, Chief Justice Asha Jackson is focusing grants on hiring 15 additional staff members.

“The allocation of this mission-critical funding is necessary for human resource and administrative needs,” Jackson said. “Staff members to support this effort [will] include court officers, assistant district attorneys, investigators, victim and witness advocates, assistant clerks, reserve sheriff’s deputies, and other administrative support personnel.

Meanwhile, the Waycross Judicial Circuit is using its funding allocation to acquire staff, including a judge, assistant district attorneys and assistant public defenders, whose hiring will allow the circuit’s core staff to focus more quickly on the treatment of serious violent crimes.

Judicial circuits rewarded

‘Sufficient funds’

Following the first round of grant awards, more than $71 million remains in funding for the two dozen unawarded Georgian judicial circuits that may apply.

But not all of the remaining funds will be distributed this year.

Justice Michael Boggs, Supreme Court of Georgia.  John Disney/ALM Justice Michael Boggs, Supreme Court of Georgia. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

Seeking to allocate more of its allocated federal funding to more quickly dispose of Georgia’s backlog cases, Georgia Supreme Court President and ARPA Ad Hoc Committee Chairman Michael Boggs pointed to the decision. of the committee to allocate half of its funding, or $48 million, to the first year of the grant process, during a January 7 Judicial Council emergency session.

“We decided that a cap of $2 million per circuit would be appropriate to ensure that we had sufficient funds for the three-year award periods,” Boggs said at the time.

With just under $23 million available for the remainder of 2022, Circuit Chief Judges who applied for ARPA funds during the second round of grants should now know the status of their funding applications and awards. , after the ARPA committee meeting on February 18. .

ARPA grant cycles

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