Stephen Reba, defense attorney for Dragon Con co-founder Ed Kramer, has moved to have Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter thrown off all cases involving his client.
The October 10 motion filed in Gwinnett Superior Court accuses Porter of prosecutorial misconduct — in part because a recent child porn charge filed against Kramer was based on his possession of a published photograph from a well-known, albeit controversial, artist.
Reba contends DA Poter misled the grand jury about the nature of the photo in order to secure an indictment and prevent Kramer from possibly getting bond in another case. On September 30, two hours after Reba was in court asking for bond to secure Kramer’s release from jail, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation issued a warrant against Kramer on a new felony count of child pornography.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article “Attorney disputes child porn charge based on artist’s photograph” explains:
…The photo in question is titled “Popsicle Drips, 1985” and comes from a provocative 1992 collection published in the book “Immediate Family”by photographer Sally Mann. It depicts the genitalia of Mann’s young son.
“The claim that the image qualifies as child pornography … cannot be supported under any legal interpretation,” Reba wrote in his motion.
Porter has not yet filed a formal response. But he denied any abuse of power and defended the most recent charge against Kramer, a registered sex offender and longtime legal nemesis who Porter first charged with child molestation in 2000.
Porter said to qualify as child pornography a photograph “has to be of a naked child, a lewd display of a naked child.” He said the fact that Mann’s photo is a published work of art was “not part of the analysis” in bringing charges.
The question of whether the photograph constitutes child porn is ultimately one for a jury, Porter said.
Mann’s photography — a collection of which will be on display at the High Museum in Atlanta starting this weekend — includes hundreds, if not thousands, of images.
“Kramer selected the ones of naked children and put them in his own file,” Porter said.
Reba’s motion argues, “The image is a copyrighted piece of art that has been possessed and displayed by famous museums, universities, public libraries, major retail bookstores, and citizens alike – in fact, Mann’s work is featured in a world-traveling exhibit at the High Museum in less than two weeks. If there is probable cause to arrest and charge Defendant for the possession of this image, so too must there be probable cause to arrest and charge the aforementioned institutions and businesses.”
The latest round in Kramer’s case also has been written up by the Associated Press in a story that ran on the New York Times website.
Porter justified his conduct before the grand just to the Gwinnett Daily Post: “Gwinnett DA Danny Porter refutes claims by DragonCon founder’s attorney of prosecutorial misconduct”.
…“That fact that an image has been published is not in and of itself controlling on whether or not it’s child pornography,”Porter said. “It’s a question for the jury, and we’ll leave that question to the jury when the case goes to trial.”
The prosecutor also denied there was any manipulation of the grand jury. Kramer was already in jail on other charges related to accessing the county’s computer network.
“The whole thing about manipulating a grand jury — we routinely, particularly in a situation where, if we had a preliminary hearing and it’s dismissed, we still could have presented the case to the grand jury,” Porter said. “In this case, with him in custody, there was no reason to have a preliminary hearing and even if this speculation that he was going to succeed was true, we still could have presented the case to the grand jury and he would have been re-arrested.”
Although that indictment is listed as the reason for the motion, there are several other complicated layers of issues looming over this matter. One of them is another indictment, for making false statement, that was handed against Kramer on the same day as the sexual exploitation charge.
Kramer had accused Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Lou Solis of physically assaulting him, but Porter said video evidence contradicted that claim. That led to the false statements charge, which Porter said he did not know about until the Sheriff’s Office sought a warrant for Kramer’s arrest. That is one of the cases Reba is trying to get Porter recused from.
Meanwhile, there have been new developments in the computer hacking case where Kramer is a defendant.
Kramer and his three hacking case co-defendants all entered not guilty pleas at their Oct. 10 arraignment hearing. Kramer, private investigator TJ Ward, Ward’s employee Frank Karic, and Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader have been indicted on three counts of felony computer trespass. GBI investigators allege that Schrader hired Ward to investigate her concerns that DA Danny Porter was trying to hack into her computer. It has yet to be shared why the judge believed that, and Porter has denied the claim. Kramer worked for Ward tracking the activity on a WireShark monitoring system installed on the judge’s computer.
Today, a Georgia state panel officially suspended Judge Schrader. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission handed down its ruling against Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader on Wednesday, nearly a month after she and three co-defendants were indicted on felony computer trespass charges. Schrader is accused of triggering a strange — and illegal — series of events by hiring a private investigator to look into her fears that someone was trying to access her work computer.
In its ruling, the JQC’s hearing panel wrote that Schrader’s alleged actions and the subsequent criminal charges had adversely affected her ability to do her job.
“The Panel further finds that Judge Schrader’s personal decision to allow an outside third party to gain access to the County’s network — with its many subsequent repercussions, including the discovery that Judge Schrader’s actions allegedly enabled a convicted child molester to have access to Court data — also adversely affects the administration of that office, as well as the rights and interests of the public,” wrote Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, the presiding officer of the JQC panel.
The next hearing in Kramer’s criminal case is scheduled for Nov. 7.