Cuts in Georgia court spending have led to fewer court dates available for hearings and trials, creating a growing backlog of cases, reports the Wall Street Journal. With serious criminal matters being heard first, delays are stretching to months for many civil, domestic, and minor criminal cases. The state court system, which handles more than 150,000 cases a year, had to slash spending by almost 15 percent in the past fiscal year, and more cuts loom.
The National Center for State Courts says that at least 28 state court systems have imposed hiring freezes, 13 have frozen salaries and seven have planned or imposed salary reductions. Six states have furloughed court staff and six have cut court hours. The Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights has filed a class action suit against the public-defender system, law-enforcement officials, and state revenue officials contending that many poor defendants are “left to languish in jail” and that “some have been without counsel for over six months.”