On Friday, July 15, 2022, the Supreme Court of Georgia entered an order denying a motion filed by Douglas County Probate Court Judge Christina Peterson in the judicial conduct proceeding relating to Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) Director Boring and Deputy Director Veal. The case is styled as ‘In re: Inquiry Concerning Judge Christina Peterson’ with case number #22Z0180.

On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Judge Peterson filed the subject motion, entitled Motion To Disqualify Charles T. Boring and Courtney M. Veal. The judge seeks to disqualify Director Boring and Deputy Director Veal as counsel in her case, arguing that they are witnesses in this matter and so cannot prosecute the Formal Charges now before the Hearing Panel.

The order reads:

“The allegations of Judge Peterson’s misconduct set forth in the Formal Charges span from her time as a practicing attorney to her recent judicial service; they involve multiple complaints to the JQC. The earliest complaint alleges that in 2017 she mishandled and misappropriated the proceeds of a settlement she obtained for herself and nine neighbors in a suit she brought against their homeowner’s association.

The next allegation involves purported misrepresentations Judge Peterson made to the JQC concerning her ability to serve as an advocate with the Adoptive Foster Parent Association of Georgia after having ascended to the bench. The third set of claims involves allegations of indecorous and/or intemperate conduct and flouting and abuse of court security protocols. A fourth allegation concerns a policy Judge Peterson supposedly implemented that gave her sole discretion to withhold copies of publicly available marriage applications and certificates that are otherwise available to the public. (This complaint was investigated by Deputy Director Veal and JQC Investigator Alford, who visited the Douglas County Courthouse in April 2021 to see if they could view these public records.)

Finally, the most recent complaint before the Hearing Panel alleges that Judge Peterson held a citizen in contempt and ordered her jailed for twenty days without due process. These allegations, detailed in four separate complaints filed against Judge Peterson, yielded the Formal Charges brought by the Director and approved by the JQC’s Investigative Panel. The current version of the Formal Charges asserts twenty-four violations of Georgia’s Code of Judicial Conduct (“CJC”).”

The order goes on:

“Judge Peterson’s effort to disqualify Director Boring fails for the separate reason that she has not shown that his testimony would be the only evidence available to prove whatever “bad motive” or entrapment theory she is hoping to develop. Indeed, the Formal Charges allege that Judge Peterson provided false statements not just to Director Boring but to other JQC staff as well concerning the advice she claims she received about the propriety of continuing her adoption advocate role.

Judge Peterson has not indicated that the other JQC staff to whom she made those statements are unable or unwilling to testify. Nor has she demonstrated that the course instructor and judges who allegedly advised Judge Peterson are unable to appear. And, of course, as potentially the best evidence on the issue raised by the complaint, there is the e-mail correspondence referenced in the Formal Charges between Judge Peterson and the JQC. Clough, 274 Ga. App. at 133-34 (existence of written correspondence covering the topic of the attorney’s expected testimony obviates the need for an attorney to testify). Given all this, Judge Peterson cannot show that Director Boring is a necessary witness for her defense.”

The order continues:

“Judge Peterson’s argument to disqualify Deputy Director Veal also fails. Judge Peterson, other than labeling Deputy Director Veal a “fact” witness, has not identified any testimony or purported testimony that is material and otherwise unavailable. While Veal’s testimony might be relevant to the conduct not of Judge Peterson but of her clerk, another potential witness – JQC Investigator Alford – was also present when the clerk refused to produce copies of public records and he remains available for examination. Thus, “other evidence [is] available to prove those facts.” Since there has been no showing that Deputy Director Veal is a necessary witness, it is improper to disqualify her as a lawyer in this case.”

The Judge earned a law degree from the Wisconsin School of Law in 2023.
The Judge’s Courtroom is at 8700 Hospital Drive 3rd Floor, Judicial Side in Douglasville, and can be reached at 770-920-7249 https://www.celebratedouglascounty.com/219/Probate-Court.

A copy of the original filing can be found here