Juvenile Court moved to downtown Marietta, making use of renovated courtrooms and offices formerly used by Cobb County Superior Court. This unifies Cobb County court services onto a single campus and improves accessibility for the public.
The Cobb DUI Court, a program of the State Court, marked its fifth anniversary in 2013. Since inception, 137 repeat Driving Under the Influence offenders successfully completed the requirements of this rigorous program, which combines concentrated court supervision, frequent court appearances and drug and alcohol treatment that lasts for a period of at least 12 months. The recidivism rate for the Cobb DUI Court is 3.5 percent, which is well below Georgia’s average recidivism rate for accountability court graduates of 6.7 percent. The Cobb DUI Court currently has 60 active participants, which will save Cobb County approximately $175,900 by providing intensive treatment in lieu of incarceration and will allow productive, rehabilitated individuals to begin and continue contributing to the community.
The Clerk of Superior Court office has transitioned being paper-driven to electronic services. For example, it has changed the submitting of sentencing sheets to the Department of Corrections, allowing for the installation of a system that submits electronically. This has increased productivity and reduced costs substantially. The clerk’s office has installed new computers and printers in all 10 of the courtrooms and is currently in the process of replacing its operating systems in both case management and land records.
Board of Commissioners approved the Clerk of Superior Court for its first technology expert, a systems coordinator position within the office. The clerk’s ongoing “Lost Victims” project paid out $2,416,855 in restitution in Fiscal Year 2013 alone.
Significant changes have been implemented in State Court relating to jury trials. The State Court consists of two divisions. Division One handles civil cases and misdemeanor criminal cases. Division Two primarily handles traffic cases. Previously, cases originally assigned to Division Two in which jury demands were filed would be transferred to Division One for jury trial proceedings. Under the new process, those cases which are returnable to Division Two of the State Court will remain in that division for jury trials. DUI cases are now being assigned to all twelve judges of both divisions of the court for disposition, including jury trials. These changes will allow for more expeditious disposition of cases, and cost savings are anticipated.
Cobb County State Court’s Sentence Enforcement Unit has worked closely with the Cobb County Clerk’s Office and Information Services to develop a probation case management system. This system will increase efficiency, accuracy, accountability, customer service responses and will set measurable standards of compliance that can be tracked by supervisors to ensure proper monitoring of probationers. This system will also provide real time reports and statistics that are required to be reported to the Administrative offices of the courts. This system was developed by in-house subject matter experts utilizing existing software, saving Cobb County approximately $40,000 by eliminating the need to purchase additional computer software.
In April, the Magistrate Court launched a new Web application, offering the acceptance of online payments for various citations. Once the citations are received and entered into the database, people are able to pay online any payable ordinance violations as well as eligible bad check citations. The online system is set up to allow them to pay up to 48 hours of their scheduled court date. Payments are received well in advance of the court date which reduces the number of cases to process in court. Online payments minimize travel to the courthouse, traffic within the courthouse, allows people to pay their fines/fees online at their convenience avoiding lines and paying for parking. It is important to note that the Magistrate Court can also accept payment by phone through this new LexisNexis VitalChek online payment solution.
In June, the Warrant Division joined the Sheriff’s Office to publicize the VINE system, which stands for Victim Information and Notification Everyday. The Magistrate Court’s role in VINE is to reach the victims who appear in Magistrate Court in which a warrant is issued immediately, as well as those victims who receive warrants from court in warrant application hearings to ensure they have access/knowledge of the system.