At a joint press conference on Wednesday, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Doris L. Downs and District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. declared an “economic state of emergency” looming over the county’s justice system that could mean the dismissal of almost 1,000 employees.

Downs said that the various segments of the county’s criminal justice system — including the state and superior courts, prosecutors, public defenders and sheriff’s department — were informed Nov. 16 that a $146 million shortfall in Fulton County coffers meant those departments must cut 25 percent of their 2010 budgets, between $25 million and $55 million. The Fulton County Board of Commissioners has yet to make a final decision about the size of the budget cuts.

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