ATLANTA – The Judicial Council of Georgia Ad Hoc Committee on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding has awarded grants totaling $15,287,317, effective March 1, 2022, to 22 judicial circuits from around the state that submitted applications for ARPA funds allocated to the judicial branch. Of these 22 circuits, 14 were first-time applicants and eight applied for additional funds to amend an existing award. The Committee previously awarded approximately $24.8 million to 26 judicial circuits for awards effective January 1, 2022.
In October 2021, Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice David E. Nahmias, who also serves as Chair of the Judicial Council, announced the allocation to the judicial branch of $110 million of ARPA funds by Gov. Brian P. Kemp to address backlogs of court cases, particularly cases involving serious violent felonies. The Judicial Council is administering $96 million of that total for eligible courts, prosecutors, and related agencies. The remaining $14 million in ARPA funds was allocated to the Georgia Public Defender Council for grants to public defenders.
Requests from judicial circuits included funding for temporary personnel to respond to the case backlog, including senior judges and judges to serve by designation, assistant district attorneys, security personnel, victim support, mediators, and court reporters, funding for rental costs for temporary space to hold court, supplies and materials, and staff to support grant administration.
Georgia’s judiciary operated under a Statewide Judicial Emergency Order from March 2020 through June 2021. The order placed necessary limitations on court operations to protect the health of those working in and coming to courthouses during this time but also resulted in a backlog of criminal and civil cases, particularly those requiring jury trials to resolve. Since the order expired on June 30, 2021, courts have increased efforts to resolve cases, but the ongoing pandemic continues to limit the pace and scale of court operations as public health measures remain in place. Additionally, new cases continue to be filed on top of the backlogs of cases that have built up over the course of the pandemic.
The Committee, chaired by Presiding Justice Michael P. Boggs, is overseeing the application process for the grants, and the Judicial Council’s Administrative Office of the Courts is facilitating the grant application, awarding, compliance, and reporting processes. The funds will be awarded on a calendar year basis, and all funds allocated to the judicial branch must be spent by December 31, 2024.
“Following this second cycle of funding, we have now provided resources to 40 of the 50 judicial circuits in the state,” said Presiding Justice Boggs. “In the first award cycle, the Committee made the decision to frontload funds during Year One of the program in hopes of addressing the case backlogs as soon as possible. Over forty-one percent of the amount allocated to the judicial branch by the Governor has been awarded, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of these funds on courts around the state.”
A complete list of grantees and award amounts is attached. Funding decisions are based on demonstrated need as long as funding remains available. In addition to the award decisions, the Committee formally adopted a revised schedule for award cycles for the remainder of the calendar year. The Committee will next accept applications from April 1 to April 15, 2022, for the final application period for Calendar Year 2022 funding.
More information on grant requirements, application timelines, and contact information is available at https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/arpa/.
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