ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's highest court wants judges, lawyers and others to come up with a way to prevent unnecessary delays in the appeals process for criminal cases.

The rare directive from the Georgia Supreme Court came Monday in an opinion on an appeal that took nearly two decades to reach the high court.

Margie Owens was convicted in June 1998 and sentenced to serve life in prison for killing her husband. It took eight years for her motion for a new trial to be heard and denied. Then it took 11 more years for her appeal to get to the Supreme Court.

The opinion directs the Council of Superior Court Judges of Georgia to work with groups representing lawyers, court clerks and others to come up with a proposal by Sept. 17.

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