She gave her assessment to members of the General Assembly participating in a three-day conference at the University of Georgia focused on issues they'll face in the coming legislative session that begins next month.
At one point, backlogs in DeKalb County delayed four death-penalty cases, she said. And since criminal defendants have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, their cases go to the head of the line.
Divorce cases and other domestic-relations matters involving children would come next. That leaves business lawsuits to last.
Those delays can harm Georgia's reputation as a business-friendly environment and discourage large employers from moving here, she warned.
"We want to do everything we can to ensure that the business community can have timely resolution of its disputes," she said. "...The need for justice does not diminish when the economy shrinks."
Some counties like Fulton have set up special courts for businesses which streamline the process. Also, the legislature created a special, statewide tax court in its last session.
Hunstein serves on a commission that has recommended other solutions like creating special courts for addicts and the mentally ill to remove those from superior-court caseloads. Last year, the legislature unanimously approved those recommendations as well as others that lowered the sentences for some crimes like forgery and small-time burglary which may encourage defendants to plead guilty instead of going to trial.
This year, the commission will recommend reducing the penalties for minor traffic offenses as another way to reduce case backlogs.
Sen. John Crosby, a former judge, said, "I think she's got a good point."
The solution is more money for added prosecutors and judges, said Crosby, R-Tifton.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who is wrapping up the details on his budget proposal for next year, said Tuesday that none of the business executives he's tried to recruit have mentioned the court backlogs as a concern.
"I think there are consequences any time you have impediments to the normal processes of government, including the speedy adjudication of disputes," said Deal, who was a local prosecutor and then a judge early in his career.
But he also explained the politics.
"I know the judiciary would like to see increased revenue flow into their coffers in terms of their salaries and in terms of the staff they have available, but if you ask the average Georgian whether or not they think the Supreme Court justices should receive a pay increase versus the teachers in their children's classrooms, I think we all know where the public would come down on that issue," he said.