State/Local Funding

  • The Georgia Judiciary is funded both by the state and by the local funding bodies. 
  • The state pays for the Appellate Courts, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and for the salaries of the trial court judges.  The salaries of trial court judges’ support staff and clerical staff, the cost of trial court technology and operating expenses and the expense of providing, maintaining and equipping local courthouses are paid by local funding bodies.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Georgia’s total state and federal grant appropriation of $162.6 million in FY12 increased to $171.5 million in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation increased from $158.3 million to $161.6 million, an increase of 3%.  The percent of the state general fund appropriation allocated to the Judiciary remained at .86%.

                1)  The state appropriation includes the Court of Appeals, the Judicial Council, the Juvenile Courts, the
                     Prosecuting Attorneys council the Superior Courts and the Supreme Court.

                2)  The increase includes greater costs for employee health benefits and the employees’ retirement system.

                3)  The FY13 budget includes additional money to fund e-filing in the Court of Appeals.

  • Funds available to the courts at the local level have been reduced.
  • Over the past four years, technology funding has decreased.
  • In 2010, civil filing fees in superior and state court were increased, with proceeds going into the state general fund.
  • The Judicial Branch budget situation over the next three fiscal years is expected to stay relatively the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch presents the Judiciary’s budget request directly to the Legislative body without prior approval by the Executive Branch. 
  • The Judicial Branch has budget authority to manage and administer appropriated funds without restrictions of detailed budget line items
  • While the Branch has the constitutional authority to manage its appropriation, the Legislature may make their wishes known within the budget document and generally the courts follow.  This generally happens on special or new projects with the majority of the appropriations handled as the courts see fit.
  • The FY13 budget does not enable the courts to provide for nor enhance technology necessary to meet the demands of the public.  
  • The introduction of technologies has enabled the courts and others to provide and receive enhanced court services.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has remained the same.  The number of central office staff persons has been reduced.  In FY13, the number of judges and central office staff persons will remain the same.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the Georgia courts have furloughed court staff.

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Georgia courts have had staff layoffs and have reduced the use of retired judges.

  • These actions have resulted in reduced service to the public and limited access to court services and have increased delays and backlogs.

Efficiency Measures:  The Georgia courts have been implementing e-filing in the Court of Appeals.

Restructuring:  The Georgia courts have reallocated staff.  They use part-time and off-hours workers.

  • The Administrative Office of the Courts relocated staff from Macon to Atlanta and closed the satellite office. 

Business Processes:  The Georgia plan in FY13 to begin, as a pilot project, remote videoconferencing of interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency.

Outsourcing:  The Georgia courts plan in FY13 to outsource the provision of language access service and also to outsource some legal services to replace a full-time staff attorney.

The State Bar has created the Next Generation Courts Commission which has as one of its charges to make recommendations on how to promote adequate funding for Georgia’s courts.

The Georgia courts are in a worse position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  If the budget situation improves, additional monies will be used on new technologies and new staffing needs for current projects. 

Reports and Articles

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