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Document Type

Article

Abstract

The Georgia appellate courts face challenges common to many courts in these days of reduced governmental resources. At the same time, the Georgia appellate courts face unusual challenges that can be traced to their historical antecedents and one unique constitutional provision: the “Two-Term Rule.” Just as “[t]he law embodies the story of a nation’s development through many centuries,” the current rules and practices of both the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Court of Appeals of Georgia embody the story of the development of those courts since their founding.

Several aspects of the history of the courts directly impact the challenges facing those courts today. Three important aspects of the history of Georgia’s appellate courts are (i) legislative resistance to the creation and expansion of the appellate courts; (ii) the constitutional “Two-Term Rule”; and (iii)attempts by the executive and legislative branches to deprive the courts of necessary funding. To this day, the Georgia appellate courts have too few judges, are understaffed and under-funded for the number of cases they must handle, and are subject to a unique constitutional mandate that cases be decided on a strict time schedule. This confluence of issues has led to the adoption of rules, procedures, and customs designed to move cases quickly and efficiently through the system with minimal resources. Such measures have alleviated but not eliminated the problem.