Alarmed at looming budget cuts, Fulton County, Ga., court officials are appealing to the court of public opinion to sway county commissioners to find other areas for funding reductions.

On Thursday, the Superior Court Web site posted an online petition to “Keep the Courts Open.” The petition drive started the day after Superior Court Chief Judge Doris L. Downs held a press conference to decry planned cuts of more than 10 percent to the county’s justice system, which includes the courts, district attorney, public defender and sheriff’s department. The cuts, she said, threaten to derail an ambitious multi-department plan to reduce the biggest expense to the system — the county jail — by cutting the jail population in half by July 1.

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