Ed Kramer, who earlier this year took a plea bargain on charges of computer trespass and testified against his former co-defendant, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader, has sued one of the judge’s electoral challengers over a campaign flyer labeling him a “convicted sex offender.”
Schrader’s February trial ended in a hung jury and due to the pandemic the retrial has yet to be scheduled. Meantime, Schrader is running for re-election, and outpolled the other candidates for her seat on the court in the June 9 primary. She now faces a runoff against Magistrate Judge Deborah Fluker.
Eliminated judicial candidate Christa Kirk is the defendant in Kramer’s suit. Her campaign distributed a flyer showing photos of Kramer and Schrader under a heading of “Indicted,” and said Schrader’s case involves “a convicted sex offender.”
Kramer’s lawsuit contends this is a libel because when he was in court on three counts of child molestation in 2013 he entered an Alford plea — which allowed him to maintain his innocence while accepting guilt for the charges. And as Law.com explains in “Gwinnett Judge Races Sparks Libel Lawsuit by Incumbent’s Former Co-Defendant”, if the sentence is completed with no further offenses, no conviction is entered on the defendant’s record. “[Kramer], who has always maintained his innocence, was sentenced under this First Offender statute in 2013 and has been, and is still, serving a First Offender sentence,” his lawsuit says. “Consequently, [he] is not ‘convicted’ and has never been ‘convicted’.”
Kramer is, however, listed as a “sexually dangerous predator” in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Sexual Offender Registry.
The lawsuit argues that the flyer harmed Kramer in the following ways:
While [Kramer] has suffered economic loss in the form of missed business opportunities and has been exposed to public hatred, contempt and ridicule, he has also suffered grave prejudice in a jurisdiction where he has pending criminal matters that may go to trial.
This act by Defendants was not only a violation of civil rights, defamatory, and libelous, it was a highly unethical act in the pursuit of a seat on the Gwinnett County Superior Court bench.
The suit asks for an order “enjoining defendants from making defamatory and libelous statements against [Kramer] and to redress the defamatory and libelous statement already made, including the disclosure of any and all parties who received the defamatory and libelous statement.”
The suit also seeks unspecified monetary and punitive damages.
Kramer is a co-founder of Dragon Con, but has not been a co-owner since 2013.
[Thanks to Nancy Collins for the story.]