Cobb courts receive $2 million grant to speed serious felony cases

photo of Cobb Superior Court building from the front with a blue sky with clouds in the background

According to a press release from Cobb County Superior Court, the Cobb judicial circuit has received a grant of nearly $2 million to speed the backlog of serious felony cases in the court.

The funds will come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The award was announced this week by the state’s Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee on ARPA Funding, and Tuesday night, Cobb’s Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to accept the grant.

Chief Judge Rob Leonard attributed the backlog to the pandemic-related statewide suspensions of jury trials, and the rising homicide rate.

“The right to a speedy and public trial by jury is at the very foundation of our criminal justice system. This grant will enable the Superior Court to try a greater number of serious cases resulting in more efficient delivery of justice for all,” Judge Leonard said. “It’s imperative to move through as many older cases as we can because the system is already struggling to keep up with rising violent crime and a homicide rate that has doubled from pre-pandemic levels.”

The press release stated:

Cobb will create an additional docket, administered by a senior judge, that will focus on serious violent felony cases that need jury trials. The award will finance positions in Superior Court Administration, the Clerk’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Sheriff’s Office, plus equipment, court reporting and transcription, interpreting, and other services necessary to conduct additional criminal jury trials.

The dedicated docket aims to add another judge managing a group of serious violent felony cases to expeditiously help victims and defendants avoid further delays to seeking justice. It will allow the elected Superior Court judges to devote more attention to other serious violent felony cases, as well as to their other criminal, civil, and domestic caseloads.

There were a total of $40 million awarded statewide. These funds must be spent by the end of 2022, but future funding can be applied for.