Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

State Funding

Posted by Maggie on November 28, 2007

Still playing catch-up. Last week, the AJC reported on the upcoming GPDSC board meeting where they’ll have to decide what to do with their underfunded budget. The article mentions ways to make the system better, including more conflict defender offices. These offices handle cases that PD’s have to conflict out of when there are multiple defendants or if your client is a witness against someone else. It’s true that the system would be much more cost-efficient this way, but it puzzled me. Last year when the big budget cuts were made and several people were laid off, I heard almost all of them were from the conflict offices. In fact, we hadn’t been allowed to conflict out of cases for several weeks at the time I left my office. If conflict offices are such a priority, why did they cut back?

I also thought the State of Georgia doesn’t seem to want to pay anyone these days. They aren’t paying GPDSC money that should be theirs under the funding system. They’re in an outrage that the re-structuring of Grady Hospital requests their financial assistance. These days it seems legislators are quick to tell us what’s wrong with everything, but don’t want to put in a dime to fix it. Grady, for you non-Atlantans, is a huge hospital downtown that trains most of the local medical students, handles most of the city’s uninsured patients, and is the only major trauma center in the city. (You have to have a trauma center to have a major airport, which we obviously do.) Grady is going to self-destruct unless it becomes a non-profit. Everyone agrees on this. Grady is necessary for the city. Everyone agrees on this. But no one can seem to agree on having to actually help. The whole thing is starting to make me slightly ill. Especially since GPDSC and Grady are two major resources for low-income Georgians.

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