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State Judiciary Seeks Funds for Rest of FY14, All of FY15

, Daily Report

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Georgia Supreme Court building in downtown Atlanta.
Georgia Supreme Court building in downtown Atlanta.

Georgia's judicial agencies, scheduled to make official budget requests for the coming fiscal year today, have also asked for an additional $1.5 million for the rest of the current fiscal year.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday included in his recommended amendments to the 2014 budget the courts' requests for more money through June 30. The state Legislature is continuing its joint appropriations hearings today and will take the governor's recommendations into consideration when drafting budget bills. The General Assembly is constitutionally obligated to decide on a spending plan, and it has been made a top priority in what is expected to be a swift session.

The $1.5 million sum includes:

• $564,301 for Superior Courts, mostly for increases in operating expenses and the employer share of the State Health Benefit Plan;

• $345,639 for the Prosecuting Attorneys Council to increase available money for district attorneys' travel and training;

• $111,779 for Juvenile Courts to increase grants to certain circuits that are used to pay juvenile court judges' salaries (the circuits are not named in the budget recommendations);

• $86,746 for the state Court of Appeals to create two attorney positions in April; and

• $22,840 for the state Supreme Court to cover increases in the cost of contractual services for document destruction.

Deal also has recommended adding in this fiscal year $1.9 million for the state's Public Defender Standards Council, the executive branch agency that oversees indigent criminal defense in most of the circuits. Nearly $1.6 million would go toward hiring private attorneys to handle cases in which public defenders have conflicts of interest. This comes from the state Supreme Court's decision last year to uphold a State Bar formal advisory opinion that prohibits public defender offices from representing co-defendants if a single lawyer would have a conflict representing those same clients.

The remainder of the council's request for extra money for FY14, about $340,000, would go toward eliminating furlough days for public defenders and staff.

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