Who Will Judge Kramer’s Lawsuit?

All ten Gwinnett County (Ga.) superior court judges have recused themselves from handling Ed Kramer’s lawsuit challenging his December 2013 guilty plea on child molestation charges. A judge from outside the county will be appointed to the case.

The last two judges recused themselves in January. Their joint filing said that they “find no evidence or implication of any improper relationship existing Superior Court Bench and the District Attorney’s Office” but they were recusing themselves to “avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

Kramer’s current attorney, Stephen Reba, claimed in court documents that the guilty plea was ill-gotten. He alleges District Attorney Danny Porter and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers colluded to re-open Kramer’s case when it had been effectively closed in 2009 after a hearing on issues surrounding Kramer’s health, and gave Kramer the authority to decide when he was healthy enough to go to trial. Reba also claims Beyers and Porter did not provide medical accommodations that would have allowed Kramer to stand trial, forcing Kramer to enter an Alford plea, a type of guilty plea under which a defendant is allowed to maintain innocence

After pleading guilty in 2013, Dragon*Con co-founder Kramer was sentenced to 34 months under house arrest.

Kramer’s attorney already has succeeded in getting DA Porter disqualified from handling Kramer’s habeas corpus petition because he may be called as a witness in any related hearings.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

Law and Odor

Does this pass the smell test? Dragon*Con founder Ed Kramer spent 13 years avoiding trial on child molestation charges, then took a plea-bargain when trial was imminent last December, but now his new attorney is trying to get that conviction thrown out so Kramer can have “a fair trial to demonstrate his innocence, which he has steadfastly maintained.”

His attorney has already succeeded in having District Attorney Danny Porter disqualified from handling Kramer’s habeas corpus petition on the state’s behalf because Porter might be called as a witness in any related hearings. A motion has also been submitted to disqualify the judge who had jurisdiction over his case. The Gwinnett (GA) Daily Post reports:

In the 21-page habeas corpus document, Reba, the ninth defense attorney Kramer has retained over the years, claims that his client’s plea was ill-gotten for a number of reasons.

Among them is the allegation that Porter, the district attorney, and Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers essentially colluded to “disappear” a 2009 ruling that, due to Kramer’s numerous medical ailments, placed the ability to initial trial proceedings in the hands of Kramer and his attorneys. That came into play in 2011, when Porter fought to have Kramer extradited from Connecticut after he was allegedly caught alone in a hotel room with a teenage boy.

Further allegations claim that Beyers and Porter did not provide medical accommodations that would have allowed Kramer to stand trial. That, the recent filings claim, forced Kramer to enter his Alford plea — which is legally a guilty plea but allows the defendant to maintain innocence — on Dec. 2, 2013, the day jury selection was scheduled to begin in his trial.

Kramer is accused of sexually assaulting three teenage boys, each of whom approved Kramer’s 2013 plea deal and were awarded $100,000 restitution. Since pleading guilty in December, Kramer has been serving his time at home under house arrest.

Kramer Did Not Violate Plea Agreement

Gwinnett County DA Danny Porter has cleared Ed Kramer, who was suspected of violating his plea agreement via social media contacts.

There had been two specific concerns. Kramer was on Google+ in a “circle” with the youth he’d been caught with in Connecticut in 2011. Also, one of the 1,900 people Kramer was following on Twitter reportedly was a user who identified herself as a 14-year-old-girl from Brisbane, Australia.

Kramer’s plea agreement, under which he received a more lenient sentence for pleading guilty to molestation charges, bars him from any contact “either direct or indirect with any person under the age of 16.”

DA Porter said August 14 that neither contact was a violation. The boy on Google+ is now 17 years old. And the Australian girl followed Kramer of her own volition and without any contact with or approval from Kramer, who was not following her back.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

A Tweet Grows in Brooklyn

Once upon a time phone pranksters called tobacco shops and asked, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” (When told “Yes” they’d scream “Well, let him out!”)

Today it was no prank when people contacted the Gwinnett County District Attorney to ask if Ed Kramer was still in the can. Because they’d seen on his @edwardekramer Twitter account that Kramer was listing his location as “Brooklyn.” Kramer is supposed to be under house arrest in Georgia.

Comics Beat broke the story on July 9.

On his twitter profile, Kramer claims to be located in Brooklyn, NY, which WOULD be a clear violation of house arrest if I’m not mistaken. A search at his website also reveals a stunning new bio:

An award-winning editor and writer, Edward E. Kramer’s published works includes Sandmanwith Neil Gaiman, Elric with Michael Moorcock, and The Crow with James O’Barr; he received the Prometheus Award for the Libertarian SF anthology Free Space, with Brad Linaweaver. Ed agented volumes of classic work for Harlan Ellison (Edgeworks), Fritz Leiber (Lankhmar), and Michael Moorcock (Eternal Champion). Ed arranged the literary partnership between authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson which re-launched the Dune universe; the first Herbert / Anderson collaborative trilogy was dedicated to Ed’s efforts.
As a photojournalist and music critic, Ed’s features were syndicated through the NY Times regional wire; his photography and portraits graced the pages of Billboard, Rolling Stone, Time, and USA Today. Ed’s original fiction appears in numerous anthologies, collections, and magazines. In 1987, Ed founded America’s largest annual pop-cultural event, Dragon Con, and served as Chairman for fourteen years. An active member of the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA) for more than two decades, and a past Nebula Awards host, Ed also served as Vice-President and Trustee of the Horror Writers Association (HWA).
A graduate of Emory University School of Medicine, Ed’s work in Violence Epidemiology with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) helped develop the technology to decrease fatalities through a pilot study for Atlanta’s Domestic Crisis Intervention Unit (DCIU). His experience includes more than two decades of work as an administrator in the psychiatric and addiction treatment professions, and eight years as Producer of the Tovia Singer Show for Arutz Sheva, Israel’s only independent national live radio station. 

Commenters on the Comics Beat article said they forwarded the information and got this reply from DA Danny Porter:

He’s not in New York. He’s on a GPS bracelet which shows he’s in Duluth Ga which has been confirmed.

Nancy Collins reports that Kramer has since taken his Twitter feed private, but screencaps were recorded. Collins has further learned:

He’s also on Google + & one of the people in his “circle” is the boy he was caught with in 2011.

The boy was 14 in 2011 when Kramer was arrested and by now would be older than 16, so while it’s a creepy thought, that probably doesn’t violate the sentencing court’s order that Kramer have no contact with anyone under the age of 16.

Update: The Gwinnett Daily Post is reporting that among the 1,900 people Kramer was following on Twitter was a user who identified herself as a 14-year-old-girl from Brisbane, Australia.

That, [District Attorney] Porter confirmed Wednesday, could represent a violation of the plea agreement, which bars Kramer from having any contact “either direct or indirect with any person under the age of 16.”

“(It’s) certainly possible,” Porter said in an email. “I’m looking into this.”

Kramer’s account was created in 2011, but had been dormant for the past three years. Two weeks ago it became active again.

Representing himself as a Brooklyn, N.Y.,-based editor, writer and producer, Kramer has tweeted more than 50 times recently, primarily sharing links to news stories covering topics like human rights, jury bias and social media best practices.

Court Rejects Kramer’s Contempt Motion

Ed Kramer, Dragon*Con founder, pleaded guilty to child molestation on December 2. Soon after he started serving 34 months of house arrest his attorney filed a contempt motion against his probation officer seeking to make it easier for Kramer to leave home for court-approved actions like medical appointments, religious services and grocery shopping.

However, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers dismissed the motion on February 28.

[Attorney] McNeill Stokes argued in court that Kramer was not permitted by Urie Josey, his probation officer, to visit a doctor or the emergency room without Josey’s permission. Josey contended that if he came to Kramer’s house and he wasn’t there, he would begin legal proceedings immediately.

“If I show up at his house and he’s not there, I don’t know if he was at the doctor, or halfway to Tennessee with kids in the car,” Josey said.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

Law and Order: Irascible Intent

Narrator: In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by three separate yet equally important groups: the police; the district attorneys; and those who process Ed Kramer’s complaints. These are their stories.

Sound effect: Boink-boink.

Ed Kramer, sentenced to 34 months of house arrest in December, has filed a motion for contempt against his probation officer reports the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“Officer (Urie) Josey … refuses to follow the Medical Procedure Order by requiring his prior approval to attend any medical appointments,” the motion said, “and has threatened immediate arrest of the Defendant if he does not obtain his prior approval for medical appointments.”

Kramer’s plea agreement allows him to leave home for medical appointments by notifying the GPS company tracking his movement and later providing proof of the visit to his probation officer.

The motion alleges that Josey’s insistence on prior approval violates the order and has caused Kramer significant medical distress.

“During the night and early morning of January 4, 2014, (Kramer) experienced extreme breathing problems and attempted to obtain Officer Josey’s permission to seek emergency medical care, preventing Defendant from receiving emergency care for 7 hours,” the filing said.

Kramer says these requirements also caused him to miss a medical appointment on January 6.

His motion asks for the probation officer to be cited and “specifically ordered” to follow the agreement.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]

Kramer Seeks More Freedom

Ed Kramer, who pleaded guilty to charges of child molestation on December 2, now appears in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Offender Registry.

He has started serving 34 months of house arrest – but his attorney has already filed an emergency motion seeking to make it easier for him to leave home for court-approved actions like medical appointments, religious services and grocery shopping.

The motion asks that Kramer, who is wearing a GPS ankle monitor, be able to leave his home after alerting the private company monitoring his movements, without having to get formal permission from the court or probation system.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter opposed the motion.

“It is a basic tenant of incarceration that convicts don’t have the ability to come and go as they please,” Porter wrote. “This defendant is no different and should be restricted to his home except for those occasions in which a convict would be transported from the prison.”

Porter instead offered a set of potential guidelines that would monitor Kramer closely yet, in his words, “prevent daily hearings based on frivolous motions filed by this defendant in an effort to test the Court’s patience and extract concessions on his sentence.”

Porter wants Kramer to request permission from his supervising probation officer each time prior to leaving home. Formal court motions would be required to challenge any denial.

Kramer would be “constantly monitored” while out of the house. Any deviation from the approved itinerary would lead to revocation of existing sentence and imprisonment.

[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the links.]

Kramer Pleads Guilty

Ed Kramer has pleaded guilty to charges of molesting three boys reports Reuters.

In a plea deal entered on the opening day of trial, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter recommended a 20-year sentence, five years in custody and the balance on parole.  

The time in custody will be served under house arrest due to Kramer’s medical condition. As he will be credited for 26 months already spent in custody, his confinement will last only 34 more months. He will be permitted to leave home for religious services, medical appointments, legal appointments and for grocery shopping.

Kramer agreed to pay $100,000 restitution to each of the three victims. And the court ordered him not to have any contact with anyone under the age of 16.

The District Attorney told the press he agreed to the plea so Kramer’s victims would not have to testify.

Two of the three victims did address the court, reports Atlanta TV station WXIA:

The first said his wife had been wonderful through the process.

“I realized, it is paralyzing,” the man said. “I just want to let the court and Ed know that even now it is something I fight with.”

The second victim said he was happy that Porter continued to pursue charges against Kramer over the years.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m glad Mr. Porter never stopped trying,” he said. “It’s amazing to finally have some type of closure. I’m glad I get to move on.”

Kramer will be registered as a sex offender, and due to his lack of a criminal record prior to this point, will be considered a first offender.

Officials said Kramer would remain in custody until electronic monitoring is set up in his home.

Kramer Trial Slated To Begin Today

After 13 years of delays and tactical efforts to avoid trial on charges of child molestation, Dragon*Con founder Ed Kramer is due have his day in court at last, however unwillingly.

The judge has ordered many accommodations to Kramer’s health problems – which the Gwinnett County jail’s medical director previously testified includes pain from a cervical fusion, psoriatic arthritis, diabetes and emphysema. In the courtroom Kramer will have:

— Access to medications

— Use of his oxygen system and TENS unit (an electrical nerve stimulator used to treat back pain), as well as plenty of batteries for them and “personnel knowledgeable in the operation of such equipment.”

— A wheelchair or walker

— “Proper nutrition to manage his blood sugar”

— A 60- to 90-minute break from proceedings “approximately every four hours,” and the opportunity to recline during those breaks

— The use of an “assistive listening system”

The alleged victims — now “grown men with careers” notes the district attorney — will travel to Georgia from their homes in the western U.S.

In the event of a conviction, one technical question is what sentencing guidelines would apply. Since Kramer’s original arrest Georgia has increased the penalties: each of the six counts of child molestation he’s facing now carries a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison; the two aggravated counts now have the potential for life sentences.

On the other hand, District Attorney Danny Porter speculates that if convicted Kramer might not serve much of any sentence:

“The real elephant in the room is if we were to try the case, and if he were convicted, and if he were sentenced to the Georgia prison system, he’s so difficult to maintain in incarceration that what I’m afraid of is he might be paroled out early,” Porter said. “And then we’d have to rely on parole to control his behavior. That’s something of real concern to me.”

[Thanks to Nancy A. Collins for the link.]

Kramer and DragonCon Settle

With Ed Kramer’s trial on child molestation charges due to begin next week, the corporate owners of Dragon*Con didn’t wait a minute to announce their out-of-court settlement severing all ties with the convention’s founder.

Last July, having succumbed to social media pressure and a threatened boycott over Kramer’s continuing financial interest in Dragon*Con, the directors did what they’d previously claimed was not possible – execute a transaction terminating his 34-percent share. A cash-out merger bought out all shares of stock in DragonCon/ACE and established a new conrunning entity, Dragon Con Inc., in which Kramer had no part.

However, Kramer had not agreed to any of this and his attorney told the press the merger was a “discriminatory squeeze-out” and the cash offered for Kramer’s shares was “grossly inadequate.”

The company struck first, suing Kramer in Fulton County Superior Court in August. When the parties reached settlement on November 25, Dragon*Con spokesman Greg Euston publicly announced “DragonCon’s relationship with Mr. Kramer is officially over.”

Euston said terms of the settlement were confidential but that it was “a small amount” more than they offered in the summer. The magnitude of the payment that might be involved is suggested by Kramer’s earlier suit to collect a 2011 dividend in the amount of $154,000, and Euston’s past statement that the company had offered three times to buy Kramer’s shares for $500,000, in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

[Thanks to Nancy A. Collins for the story.]