Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader has been suspended by a state commission following her indictment in a complex computer trespassing case that has also resulted in charges against a private investigator, a computer technician and the founder of DragonCon.
The Georgia Judicial Qualifying Commission issued the suspension Wednesday in response to the indictment, which was issued by a grand jury a month ago. Schrader hired private investigator T.J. Ward because she believed Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter was hacking her computer — something Porter has denied.
Schrader had recused herself from hearing cases prosecuted by Porter’s office, but had continued to hear civil cases.
“(The) Hearing Panel ... hereby suspends Judge Schrader until the final disposition of this criminal matter or until her current term of office expires, whichever occurs first,” said Robert C.I. McBumey, the presiding officer over the commission’s hearing panel, in the written decision.
The suspension of Schrader is the latest in an ongoing and unusual saga that has embroiled Gwinnett’s legal system. It is not clear why Schrader believed Porter was hacking her computer, but the Judicial Qualifications Commission had some strong words concerning the judge’s alleged actions in its written decision to suspend her.
“The indictment under consideration arises from allegations that Judge Schrader decided — without consulting or informing her colleagues, court administration, or County officials — to allow an outside third party to have access to (i.e., trespass upon) the Court’s (and thus the County’s) network,” the McBumey said in the decision. “Plainly this relates to the administration of the Judge’s office.”
After Ward was hired by Schrader to look into her belief that Porter was hacking her computer, he allegedly brought in Frank Karic to place a monitoring device on Schrader’s computer.
Karic then allegedly brought in DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, who took an Alford Plea on child molestation charges in 2013. An Alford Plea means a person pleads guilty to the charges against them, but maintains their innocence.
“The Panel further finds that Judge Schrader’s personal decision to allow an outside third party to gain access to the County’s network — with its many subsequent repercussions, including the discovery that Judge Schrader’s actions allegedly enabled a convicted child molester to have access to Court data — also adversely affects the administration of that office, as well as the rights and interests of the public,” McBumey wrote in the decision.