Two more Gwinnett judges step aside from Dragon Con founder’s case

A convicted child molester on Thursday again demanded all Gwinnett Superior Court judges be prohibited from deciding whether a fellow judge and the district attorney colluded against him.

The fact that all the Gwinnett judges who have been assigned the case have quit it — the latest this week — demonstrates the bench is too close to DA Danny Porter to ensure justice, said Stephen Reba in court papers.

Reba is the newest attorney for Edward Eliot Kramer, a founder of Dragon Con, whose case has been in Gwinnett courts since 2000. They’re asking the court to dismiss Kramer’s December 2013 plea bargain in which he agreed to 34 months house arrest and a lifetime of probation.

Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers, the trial judge, denied the court filing before recusing herself from the case in November. But Reba argues in court papers that the issue should be reopened because a total of six judges —- half the Gwinnett bench — have withdrawn from deciding the case.

On Tuesday, Judge Debra Turner recused herself, following Judge George Hutchinson who withdrew on Dec. 11, according to Reba. Previously Judge Tom Davis, Judge Warren Davis and Judge Ronnie Batchelor recused themselves.

The case is now with Judge Timothy Hamil.

“Here, the clear perception created from the recusal of half the circuit’s 12 judges — some providing a rationale in stepping down, some not — is that there exists too close of relationship between the Gwinnett judiciary and the Gwinnett district attorney for a fair hearing,” Reba wrote. “This perception is only bolstered by the judges who offer no specific rationale for their withdrawal.”

Porter withdrew his office from the hearing to decide the collusion issue because he is a witness.

The legal mess began in October after Kramer filed court demands to set aside his 2013 plea — which came right on the eve of his trial. A 2000 indictment accused him of molesting three boys ages 13 to 15.

The plea was a victory of sorts because he was granted house arrest for a 5-year sentence. The trial date came after his hard-fought battle to delay it, citing among other things his complex medical issues. Beyers sentenced him to 60 years with five of them in custody. Because of credit for 26 months in jail his home confinement, except for medical appointments, was to be for 34 months.

In 2009, Reba contends, Beyers ruled Kramer’s assessment of his medical issues would dictate any trial date and stated she didn’t believe his medical condition would improve enough for trial.

Porter disputes that Kramer had the authority to decide if he would go to trial and contends he violated the judge’s order in 2011 to stay away from children under 16. That led to his arrest and re-activated case.

Kramer no longer has any association with the popular sci-fi and pop culture convention Dragon Con, that populates downtown Atlanta with outlandish costumes on Labor Day weekend.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.