Judge Removed for Incompetence and Ethics Violations

In a decision that should surprise absolutely no one, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday to boot Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson from office. This comes after the Judicial Qualifications Commission found Peterson guilty of “systemic incompetence” and recommended her removal back in April. Shocking, I know.

In one particularly egregious case, Peterson decided to jail a naturalized U.S. citizen from Thailand who simply sought to amend her marriage license. Apparently, Peterson thought this woman was trying to defraud the court and slapped her with a maximum of 20 days in jail, which could be reduced to two days if she paid a $500 fine. The woman paid the fine and was released after two days. Nice job, Judge. Nothing like jailing someone over what turned out to be “an innocent mistake borne out of ignorance rather than ill-intent,” according to court documents. Peterson’s overzealous ruling was just the tip of the iceberg.

The panel found that Peterson’s testimony to the panel about the case was “untruthful,” which highlighted her “conscious wrongdoing” in finding the woman guilty of criminal contempt. And that was just one of the 30 counts against her, with 12 of those counts warranting discipline.

The court didn’t mince words in its ruling: “Accordingly, it is ordered that Judge Christina Peterson of the Douglas County Probate Court be removed from office, effective upon the date of this opinion.” Oh, and by the way, she’s also barred from election or appointment to any judicial position in Georgia for the next seven years. Maybe she can find a hobby in the meantime.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Peterson was arrested early Thursday at the Red Martini Restaurant and Lounge after allegedly pushing an Atlanta police officer in the chest—twice—during an altercation. Classy. Atlanta police released bodycam footage of the incident, and the officer, in case you were wondering, was working an approved extra job at the time.

Peterson’s attorney, Marvin Arrington Jr., tried to paint a different picture, telling reporters during a press conference on Friday that Peterson was just trying to defend a woman who was being attacked by an unknown man and should not have been arrested. Sure, because pushing a police officer is exactly how you handle that situation.

So, here we have it: a judge with a flair for jailing innocent people, lying under oath, and a knack for getting into brawls with police officers. Georgia, consider yourself lucky that this “judge” won’t be making any more decisions from the bench anytime soon.