Judicial Funding Likely to Increase in 2012

Greg Bluestein, with the Associated Press, reports that the Judiciary could see more funding in 2012. The report echoes some of the discussion at the Appellate Practice Section luncheon several days ago. Mr. Bluestein reports that “[t]he judicial branch’s budget situation was so dire in 2009 that Georgia’s top judges considered whether to take emergency legal action to stop the state from cutting their funding.”

Judge John Pridgen, the chair of the Council of Superior Court Judges is “very much encouraged” by the support of a governor, who is a lawyer and who has a son who is a Georgia Superior Court Judge.

The governor’s budget request includes a “$10 million grant to fund a system of accountability courts for alternative treatment of some low-level offenders.” There are several other budget increases reportedly in the works

  • funding increases to allow for the hiring of more clerks, additional attorneys, and new equipment to reverse a backlog in court cases
  • $3 million for district attorneys
  • An infusion of cash for GPDSC (though GPDSC seems perfectly willing to deliver substandard representation, according to recent arguments at the Supreme Court)
  • A grant of $145,000 to the Supreme Court to fund a pay increase for staff attorneys and to create a dedicated clerk for death penalty cases
  • A $106,000 proposal to hire another investigator for the Judicial Qualifications Commission. This is good news for lawyers everywhere. Trial judges have been exceptionally polite lately since the JQC has become more active in the last few years
  • The Georgia Resource Center, which handles death penalty cases on appeal and in the post-conviction setting, woudl get enough funding to stay open in the wake of recent cuts that would have killed the organization

Of course, time and the legislative process will tell whether all of this funding comes through. But it is quite nice to have a governor in office who recognizes that there is a third branch of government.

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