Sources confirm Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader hired a private investigator last February to see if someone was hacking into her computer.

Hearings scheduled in Gwinnett courthouse hacking saga

A court hearing scheduled for next month may determine if a Gwinnett County judge will formally recuse herself from presiding over hundreds of cases being prosecuted by the local district attorney, who she has accused of trying to hack into her computer.

Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader — who is under GBI investigation after hiring a private investigation team that included a convicted child molester to look into her hacking concerns — has temporarily stepped aside from handling her criminal cases and asked colleagues to cover for her. But she has not taken the more formal, and more permanent, step of recusing herself from those cases.

District Attorney Danny Porter, who has vehemently denied trying to access Schrader’s computer, filed a request last month that the judge officially step aside from all criminal cases brought by his office, questioning her capacity to be impartial given recent developments.

A hearing on the matter is currently scheduled for May 9, Porter said Tuesday. 

Schrader’s colleagues on the Gwinnett County Superior Court bench opted out of handling the hearing, so veteran Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger was assigned to  the case. It was unclear if a ruling would be issued during the hearing.

The push for Schrader’s recusal is being made amid a separate GBI investigation into actions the judge allegedly took to look into her concerns that someone — possibly Porter — was attempting to hack into her work computer. 

In her quest for answers, Schrader reportedly hired private investigator TJ Ward and allowed an employee of his to attach a monitoring device to her computer. Ward then tasked Ed Kramer, who has worked as a computer forensic analyst, with tracking activity on Schrader’s computer. 

Kramer, the long-exiled co-founder of popular Atlanta sci-fi convention DragonCon, is also a convicted child molester and longtime nemesis of Porter.

Porter is concerned that Kramer and the rest of Ward’s team could have been given illegal access to the county’s larger network. The GBI is investigating if a crime was committed. 

According to Porter, it was Kramer’s recent arrest that led him and other investigators to discover Schrader’s alleged actions in the first place. 

Kramer was arrested Feb. 26 after allegedly taking a photo of a 7-year-old boy at a local doctor’s office several days earlier. In addition to new charges, he was accused of violating the probation still in place following his 2013 conviction on multiple counts of child molestation. 

A post-arrest search of Kramer’s home computers found a file labeled with Schrader’s name, Porter said.

“The idea that he would be allowed anywhere near the computer network of the courts, it’s just appalling,” Porter said recently.

The district attorney is now a potential witness in the GBI case and is no longer part of the investigation team.

Kramer, meanwhile, has requested the Porter’s office be removed from handling future proceedings in his original criminal case. A hearing on that matter was scheduled for Friday afternoon. 

Kramer was originally charged with molesting three young boys in 2000. Thanks to legal maneuvering and health issues, the case dragged on for more than a decade. 

In Dec. 2013, Kramer entered a negotiated plea and was sentenced to nearly three years on house arrest and 15 more on probation. But because Kramer was sentenced under Georgia’s First Time Offender Act, his new legal trouble could dramatically alter his punishment. 

A judge could re-sentence Kramer on his original charges — and would not have to adhere to the original negotiated plea. That means a new sentence could, in theory, include as many as 60 years in prison.

If a judge agrees that Porter should be removed from the Kramer case, a new prosecutor from outside Gwinnett would be appointed.

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