Porter has denied trying to access Schrader’s computer, saying there was “no rational basis” for the judge’s fears.
Sources confirm Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader hired a private investigator last February to see if someone was hacking into her computer.
He has, however, expressed deep concerns about the actions that purportedly resulted from those fears. The district attorney helped launch the GBI's probe into Schrader and others after the arrest of Ed Kramer — the convicted child molester and longtime Porter nemesis.
Kramer, the exiled co-founder of popular Atlanta sci-fi convention DragonCon, was arrested in late February after being accused of taking a picture of a young boy at a Lawrenceville doctor’s office. Kramer was still on probation after his 2013 child-molestation conviction, and the doctor’s office photo was a potential probation violation.
Kramer’s home computers were searched, Porter said, and investigators found a folder with Schrader’s name on it.
According to court filings, the subsequent investigation found that Schrader had hired private investigator T.J. Ward in February to look into her hacking concerns. After a “WireShark” monitoring device was placed on Schrader’s county-owned computer, Ward tasked Kramer, who has worked as a computer forensic analyst, with tracking any suspicious activity involving the judge’s device.
Porter, who fears Kramer might have been able to gain broader access to the county’s computer network, alerted the GBI after learning all of that. The agency is investigating whether a crime was committed by Schrader, Kramer, Ward or Frank Karic, the man reportedly responsible for installing the “WireShark.”
Porter is now a witness in the case and has recused himself from the investigation.
Schrader’s recusal, meanwhile, means a new judge or judges will have to handle the nearly 500 criminal cases over which she currently presides. Those cases are in various stages of the judicial process.
It’s not clear if there will be other ramifications for the judge.
Ben Easterlin is the director of Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, which oversees judicial conduct across the state. Easterlin said Tuesday he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any complaints against Schrader, or if the JQC was involved in the matter in any way.
Full statement issued on behalf of Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader:
“Judge Kathryn M. Schrader cares deeply for the justice system. She respects legal due process and wants the best for her Gwinnett County constituents and for the public at large that find themselves with matters in the Gwinnett Courts. For that reason, since March 27, 2019, Judge Schrader has not presided over or acted on any criminal matter handled by the Gwinnett County District Attorney office. Due to the current investigation she has requested another Judge handle her criminal calendars and will instead continue to serve on civil matters that are not part of the work of the District Attorney’s Office.”