Responding to Citizen Concerns
ATLANTA -- Burglary charges in Fulton County will no longer be decided by Magistrate Judges, Fulton County’s Chief Judge announced Friday.
Citing concerns about the increasing incidence of burglary and its impact on communities Chief Judge Cynthia Wright said the Court’s elected Superior Court Judges will hear all burglary cases effective June 21, 2010.
“I and my fellow Judges have listened to input from our citizens and have taken their concerns to heart,” Judge Wright said. "We are making this change so that we can adequately review the charges, a defendant’s past criminal history, impose appropriate sentences and be held accountable by the public for the sentence imposed."
Up until this date, burglaries have been assigned to the Court’s Felony Fast-Track program. Begun in 2006, the Fast-Track is credited with reducing Fulton’s criminal case backlog of nonviolent, drug and property crime cases by 40 percent while giving the county’s elected Superior Court Judges more time to deal with murder and other violent crimes.
“The Felony Fast-Track program does an excellent job of processing nonviolent drug and minor property crime, but at this point the Court believes it more appropriate that burglary be removed from that program based on the increasing incidence of burglary and the increasing incidence of violent burglary,” Judge Wright said.
Judge Wright said Fast-Track and every other program and process of the Superior Court is and will continue to be under review to ensure that the Court functions efficiently and effectively and with greater accountability.
“Each time we attempt to improve our Court we understand that there will need to be adjustments to procedures,” Judge Wright said. “But our commitment is always to public safety, efficiency in court procedures and providing due process for all.”
Fulton Superior Court is Georgia’s largest and busiest trial court, with some 30,000 cases on its calendar.
The Fast-Track program is one of several innovations piloted by the Court. Others established in the past two decades include Georgia’s:
• First Family Court to speed decisions in divorce, custody and support actions to minimize the pain and dislocation associated with these proceedings.
• Most ambitious and effective Drug and Mental Health courts. Our programs address the most serious repeat offenders to maximize public safety by turning lawbreakers into taxpayers.
• Most efficient and effective pretrial release supervision program that saves taxpayer money while keeping defendants for reoffending.
In 2009, the Court began a backlog reduction project, funded by a $1.2 million federal grant to sort out 350 crimes-against-persons felony cases that were more than 1 year old.
This year, the Court developed a case management pilot project that seeks to maintain the reduction in cases by meeting or beating nation best practice timelines and benchmarks for processing felony cases that was recently agreed to by the Court, District Attorney, and Public Defender.
Fulton’s 19 Superior Court Judges preside over administrative appeals and civil, serious criminal, and domestic relations cases. And, since Fulton County includes Atlanta, the state’s capitol, Fulton Superior Court Judges hears all lawsuits involving state government units. The Fulton Superior Court Administrator manages Approximately 300 staff that operates the programs and services designed to provide the citizens of Fulton County with meaningful access to the judicial system.