Dougherty Judicial Circuit to receive $2 million, part of $24.8 million in grants

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Dec. 23—ATLANTA — The Judicial Council of Georgia Ad Hoc Committee on American Rescue Plan Act Funding ("Committee") has awarded grants totaling $24,806,522 to 26 judicial circuits from around the state that submitted applications for ARPA funds allocated to the judicial branch. The Committee accepted applications from Nov.10-30 for the award period beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

The Dougherty Judicial Circuit, which requested $6,666,587 in grant funding, was one of five judicial circuits to receive $2 million grants from the committee.

In October, Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice David E. Nahmias, also chair of the Judicial Council, announced the allocation of up to $110 million of ARPA funds by Gov. Brian Kemp to address backlogs of court cases, particularly cases involving serious violent felonies. The Judicial Council is administering up to $96 million of that total for eligible courts, prosecutors, and related agencies. The remaining $14 million in ARPA funds is 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 and court reporters, funding for rental costs for temporary space to hold court, supplies and materials, and administrative 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, 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.

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 Dec. 31, 2024.

"As soon as we received word of the governor's allocation of these funds to the judicial branch, we began working to establish a process for awarding grants to courts statewide," Boggs said. "These 26 circuits represent over half of the judicial circuits in our state — encompassing rural, urban, and suburban areas — and they will soon have the much-needed resources to assist in their efforts to resolve their backlogs and return to pre-pandemic operations. We look forward to supporting these circuits, and all future applicants, in their work."

The Committee will next accept applications from Jan. 1-15. More information on grant requirements, application timelines, and contact information is available at https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/.

The budget amount approved by the Committee was $24,806,522. Budget requests and amounts granted include:

Alapaha: $341,114, $325,332

Alcovy: $311,515, $311,515

Appalachian: $ 2,656,113 $2,000,000

Atlantic: $516,837, $516,837

Augusta: $2,162,811, $2,000,000

Blue Ridge: $52,200, $52,200

Brunswick: $847,194, $847,194

Chattahoochee: $3,664,884, $2,000,000

Columbia: $874,024, $ 874,024

Dougherty: $6,666,587, $2,000,000

Douglas: $1,071,510, $741,510

Enotah: $2,444,006, $2,000,000

Houston: $142,113, $142,113

Macon: $977,026, $977,026

Mountain: $446,163, $446,163

Northeastern: $1,081,610, $1,081,610

Northern: $560,879, $560,879

Ocmulgee: $161,730, $161,730

Ogeechee: $1,979,202, $1,825,348

Paulding: $1,316,226, $1,316,226

Piedmont: $13,276, $13,280

Southwestern: $667,441, $667,441

Stone Mountain: $2,394,978, $2,000,000

Toombs: $346,010, $346,010

Towaliga: $627,399, $627,399

Waycross: $972,685, $972,685

Total: $37,077,300, $24,806,522

Note: These numbers are subject to change based on grant awards that were made conditionally pending pre-approval of select items by the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.

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