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Dorrie Toney, [email protected]
Emily Berkowitz, [email protected]

July 9, 2024

Settlement requires Fulton County District Attorney’s office to comply with court reporting rules

ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Georgia settled a lawsuit at the end of June filed on behalf of Barred Business against the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for its failure to comply with a court rule requiring the office to notify the Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge of all unindicted individuals detained on felony charges for 45 days. The settlement agreement was reached after the District Attorney's Office agreed to comply with the rule on an on-going basis.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year, builds off a 2023 report from the ACLU of Georgia, which examined the ongoing overcrowding crisis at Fulton County Jail. The report found that one of the major drivers of overcrowding was the significant number of people held without indictment. As of October 2023, 1,114 individuals, or 37 percent of the total Fulton County Jail population, were detained while unindicted.

The Office's compliance with its reporting requirement will provide the Chief Judge with notice of the Fulton County Jail’s pre-indictment population. This information can help facilitate more timely case processing and shorter pretrial detention and, consequently, reduce the dangerous overcrowding in the Fulton County Jail.

"No one should have to sit behind bars for days, weeks, or months without even being formally charged with a crime—yet that is a regular occurrence in the Fulton County Jail. This settlement is a much-needed step in the right direction to bring transparency and accountability to the ongoing pretrial detention crisis in Fulton County,” said Andrés López-Delgado, staff attorney at the ACLU of Georgia.

From Barred Business: "As an organization deeply committed to justice and the rights of all Justice Impacted people, we at Barred Business see this settlement as a crucial victory. Ensuring the timely processing of cases is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative that impacts the lives of countless individuals unjustly held without indictments. This agreement marks a significant step towards transparency, accountability, and ultimately, the reduction of overcrowding in Fulton County Jail. We remain steadfast in our mission to advocate for the humane treatment of all individuals within the criminal justice system."

"Although a lawsuit should not have been necessary to force the Fulton County District Attorney's Office to comply with its mandatory public duty, this settlement is one step, hopefully of many, to hold Fulton County officials to account for the persistent overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail. Fulton County has much more work to do to decarcerate its jails and begin repairing the harms of its overuse of the carceral system," said Julian Clark, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project.

You can read more about how the Fulton County District’s Attorney’s Office will comply with the rule here.