Judicial Council Awards American Rescue Plan Act Grant to Douglas Judicial Circuit
ATLANTA – The Judicial Council of Georgia Ad Hoc Committee on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding has awarded an additional $236,068, effective June 1, 2022, to the Douglas Judicial Circuit. The Committee has previously awarded more than $43 million to 42 judicial circuits (including Douglas) for awards in calendar year 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.
The award to the Douglas Judicial Circuit includes funding for an additional prosecutor and investigator to respond to backlogs of serious violent felony cases. Previous awards to judicial circuits have included funding for temporary personnel to respond to case backlogs, 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.
“We appreciate the Douglas Judicial Circuit revising its previously submitted application, which allows us to make this additional funding available,” said Presiding Justice Boggs. “As the program requires, circuits are prioritizing serious violent felony cases as they work diligently to address case backlogs.”
A complete list of CY 2022 grantees and award amounts is attached. Funding decisions are based on demonstrated need as long as funding remains available. The Committee is scheduled to accept applications for CY 2023 funding from September 15 – 30, 2022.
More information on grant requirements, application timelines, and contact information is available at https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/arpa/.