The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Probation Office (USPO), the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), and the Federal Defender Program, Inc. (FDP) have jointly created the Accountability, Treatment, and Leadership Court, known as the ATL Court. The ATL Court is a post‐guilty plea, pre-sentencing, court-supervised program which offers an alternative to incarceration and seeks to provide rehabilitative services to selected defendants. Participation will be entirely voluntary and must be approved by the judge presiding over the defendant’s criminal case (Originating Judge).
An individual whose application into the program is accepted agrees to have their case transferred from the Originating Judge to one of the ATL Judges. Following the transfer, the defendant will enter a guilty plea pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement which sets forth an agreed upon factual basis for the guilty plea, the defendant’s participation in the ATL Court, and the specific benefit to be received by the defendant upon successful completion of the program. After entering a guilty plea, each participant will be subject to intensive supervision, to include regular appearances before the ATL Court Team, as well as participation in individualized programs designed to address the causes of that particular defendant’s criminal conduct. Such activities may include: substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, employment services, and educational programs. The program lasts between 12 and 24 months, and each defendant determined by the ATL Court Team to have successfully completed the program will receive the benefit specified in their plea agreement. There are three possible benefits:
- dismissal of the charges;
- conviction of a misdemeanor offense, rather than a felony offense, with a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment; or
- conviction of a felony offense without a term of imprisonment.
A defendant who fails to successfully and timely complete the program will proceed to sentencing before one of the ATL Judges on the felony charge(s) to which they entered a guilty plea.
The ATL Court Team’s operations will include:
- reviewing applications and selecting participants;
- designing the individualized program plan for each participant and ensuring resource availability for all the activities set forth in the plan;
- preparing for and attending regularly scheduled court sessions;
- making decisions regarding rewards (for successes) and sanctions (for failures); and
- determining whether each defendant has successfully completed the ATL Court and should receive the benefit specified in the plea agreement.
There are no fixed criteria for selecting defendants for participation in the program; however, the following are presumed ineligible for the program:
- Defendants whose current offense conduct includes personally committing, or directing others to commit, acts of violence. An act of violence means the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another, whether with or without a weapon or an object;
- Defendants with more than minor involvement in large-scale fraud or narcotics distribution;
- Defendants who would be safety valve-ineligible, as defined in the First Step Act and pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f);
- Defendants who are charged with possession of a firearm during the offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) or 922(j), or in which the charge itself is a prohibited person in possession or receipt of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) or 922(n);
- Defendants who are charged with a human trafficking offense;
- Defendants who are charged with sexual offenses that would classify as either Tier II or Tier III under 34 U.S.C. § 20911(3) and (4);
- Defendants with a prior conviction for a sexual offense if the offense would (A) classify as a Tier II or a Tier III under 34 U.S.C. § 20911(3) and (4); and (B) earn criminal history points under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines;
- Defendants charged with child exploitation, including possession or distribution of child pornography;
- Defendants charged with crimes related to terrorism under Title 18, United States Code, Chapter 113B; and,
- Defendants who were subject to removal by immigration authorities prior to committing the charged conduct.
Selection of ATL Court participants will be by consensus of the ATL Court Team. Each agency representative, each ATL Judge, and the Originating Judge will have the ability to veto any particular defendant’s participation in the program. Only defendants who have been charged beginning in calendar year 2022 are eligible to apply.