Judicial watchdog agency says metro Atlanta judge poses ‘threat of serious harm’

Christina Peterson was elected as a Douglas County probate judge in November 2020.

Credit: Douglas County

Credit: Douglas County

Christina Peterson was elected as a Douglas County probate judge in November 2020.

An Atlanta-area judge poses a threat to the public and her courtroom and should be suspended from the bench, according to Georgia’s judicial watchdog agency.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission has asked the state Supreme Court to suspend Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson, who is facing 50 separate ethics charges. It’s the second time the JQC has requested Peterson be suspended, but the first request was denied.

Among the allegations against Peterson, who was the first Black probate judge in Douglas County when she was elected in 2020, are the misuse of social media and allowing staff to back-date official documents. An initial complaint containing 18 charges was filed last fall. Last week’s filing brought the number of allegations to 50.

The commission contends Peterson’s “continued service on the bench poses an immediate and substantial threat of serious harm to the public and to the administration of justice.”

On Friday, the state Supreme Court said Peterson must respond to the allegations by Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Cartersville attorney Lester Tate represents Peterson and is a former JQC chairman. Tate told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Peterson is now awaiting a hearing on the allegations.

“What Judge Peterson wants right now is to have a trial on these charges because the JQC has asked for continuances for almost a year now to keep from having to try what they deemed was serious a year ago,” Tate said Thursday.

According to the JQC filings, Peterson promoted her hobby as an actress and requested money on her birthday in public social media posts.

“A lot of the things that have been alleged, the things that I have seen, are things that were either said in jest or things that related to her hobby of being an actress,” Tate told Channel 2 Action News. “We believe that this is just an attempt to try to muddy her with more additional, spurious allegations when, if they really were that serious, the JQC should have spent the last year trying to get the case into court.”

After graduating from the University of Georgia, Peterson was admitted to the state bar in 2013. She previously served as a practicing attorney.