The Georgia Supreme Court announced that Governor Brian Kemp is providing up to $ 110 million in federal COVID-19 aid to focus on the backlog in counties across the state, including those involving violent crimes .

The funds come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden in March. The Georgian judicial system operated under a nationwide emergency court order from March 2020 to June 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which meant that some cases could be tried virtually but others that required a face-to-face trial were delayed.

The personal cases include grand jury and jury trials in which suspects charged with violent crimes have been charged and / or tried, as well as civil trials. The delay resulted in a significant backlog of criminal and civil proceedings, and since the end of the emergency warrant on June 30, courts across Georgia have stepped up efforts to deal with these cases as quickly as possible. However, they have been delayed by the health and safety measures that require a personal procedure.

“Most of our state’s government agencies and corporations have slowed or stopped during the COVID pandemic,” said David Nahmias, chairman of the Supreme Court who is also chairman of the Georgia Judicial Council, in a press release.

“The meals that restaurants didn’t serve are never served, and the airline’s canceled flights have not been postponed. But the legal cases that have not been resolved, especially when jury trials cannot be safely held, remain pending and must be resolved along with any new trial that is filed. So we really appreciate the governor’s allocation of ARPA to help the judicial system clear the backlog and get the courts on which our citizens and businesses depend, ”he added.

Kemp uses a portion of the $ 4.8 billion ARPA fund received by the state to provide grants to eligible courts, prosecutors and related agencies. The funds will be used for courts to hire more staff and temporarily create offices and courtrooms to help clear the backlog in proceedings.

Fulton County, the largest and most populous county in Georgia, has a backlog of more than 200,000 cases. At a meeting of the Fulton Board of Commissioners Mayors on June 30, County Manager Dick Anderson said it would take 30 to 34 months to clear the backlog.

The state plans to use the ARPA funds to first clear the backlog of violent crime cases in the highest courts across Georgia. These crimes include murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, aggravated child abuse, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual activity.

The Georgia Justice Council, which serves as the policy-making body for the judiciary, has established an ad hoc ARPA Funding Committee to manage the application process for grants to eligible courts, prosecutors and related agencies. Michael Boggs, Chairman of the Supreme Court, will chair the committee and the Administrative Office of the Council Courts will facilitate grant application, award, compliance and reporting processes. The funds must be spent by December 31, 2024.

“We look forward to distributing these funds as soon as possible to help our courts deal with the backlog of serious violent crime cases, which will help improve public safety,” Boggs said in the press release.

For more information on funding requirements, application deadlines and contact information, see https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/.