Throughout the trial, defense attorney B.J. Bernstein has attempted to paint her client as an accomplished judge who was concerned about the security of her computer and fed up with what she deemed to be a lackluster response from the county’s IT department.
County employees who testified early in the week characterized Schrader’s technology issues as “common errors.” The prosecution has maintained that Schrader’s actions amounted to illegally allowing outsiders to access, alter and interfere with the Gwinnett County computer network.
Outside experts called by the defense Thursday, meanwhile, testified that there were very real security issues with the county network that Schrader had reason to be concerned about.
“All of the issues she described are potential alarms of a network intrusion,” said computer forensic expert David Kalat.
They also testified that the device installed on Schrader’s computer was “minimally invasive” and merely monitored traffic, without the capacity to alter or otherwise access county data.
Schrader, who has been suspended from the bench pending the outcome of her case, reportedly feared that Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter may have been trying to hack into her computer. Porter has denied that allegation.
According to testimony from a GBI agent working the case, Schrader didn’t think county staff was taking her concerns seriously and feared there may have been a “conspiracy” inside the courthouse.
She said that’s why she contacted private investigator T.J. Ward and allowed his men — including one who turned out to be DragonCon co-founder and registered sex offender Edward Kramer — to keep tabs on her computer’s activity.
“I take full responsibility,” Schrader told prosecutor John Regan. “Absolutely. I was there and felt like it was necessary.”