Fulton County Superior Court judges will be themselves “judged” as the county is beginning a new system on how well and how fast adjudicators handle their caseloads and sentencing.
“What we plan on providing to the commission on a daily basis are the open cases for our public defenders and the age of those cases,” said Alton Adams, deputy chief operating officer for public safety.
Adams addressed the Fulton Board of Commissioners at its Oct. 2 meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta.
The system is expected to help address problems the county’s justice system has had with some judges releasing suspects who are repeat offenders on little or no bond and allowing them to commit more crimes.
Adams said one of the challenges his department faces is the county has a disproportionate number of individuals who have been incarcerated in the Fulton County Jail for more than 365 days, the number of defendants they have in jail and the age of those cases.
“Our goal is to reduce the number of those incarcerated as the reduction of defendants is most important,” Adams said.
“We believe this information will have a direct impact on our ability to lower the number of individuals we have in the Fulton County Jail, the age of those defendant cases, the disposed cases of the previous day or week and the number of open cases these judges have.”
Fulton Vice Chair and District 3 Commissioner Lee Morris said this data on the courts is going to be important to the constituents of our commissioners.”
“I certainly have been hearing from my constituents in the Buckhead area, as they want data on how the various individual judges are handling their caseloads and sentencing repeat offenders,” he said. “This data is going to be important to our constituents who are concerned about crime in Buckhead and I hear from them about all the time.”
There is a backlog of public defender cases, and the reason Adams plans to conduct this judge evaluation is to reduce the population of those incarcerated in the jail.
A summary of the report stated about 18% of felony cases adjudicated in Fulton Superior Court in 2017 and 2018 were committed by repeat offenders.
In a statement regarding the issue, District 1 Commissioner Liz Hausmann said, “We need information included in our reporting on case results such as cases sent to accountability courts, repeat offenders and other circumstances that influence court delays and outcomes. Our public deserves the data to be explained to fully understand the challenges we face in a large urban-suburban county.”