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Judge’s quarter-million dollar gig ended by ‘systemic incompetence’

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(The Center Square) – Removal of a Georgia probate judge from the bench by the state Supreme Court ends a lucrative though short tenure for a 38-year-old, and doesn’t even include reasoning in a pending case with viral video of her arrest last week.

Justices in the state’s high court agreed with a Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation that found two-term Democrat Christina Peterson guilty on 28 of 30 counts. The court, citing “systemic incompetence,” said the embattled judge had “flagrant disregard for the law, court rules, and judicial conduct rules” in addition to a “pattern of violations.”

The court’s recommendation was made in April. Her removal was effective Tuesday. She’s ineligible for election or appointment to judicial positions for seven years.

Last Thursday’s arrest was not among the cases under review, which in her tenure have soared to 50. In that, video showed Peterson’s engagement with law enforcement including failure to give her name when asked after an altercation at the Red Martini. She told them to “Google her.” Peterson and others with her insisted she had tried to help another involved in an inside the restaurant altercation.

The judge was handcuffed and taken away in a police vehicle.

Peterson, a lawyer said to also harbor ambition as an actress, was elected in November 2020. She got a $36,688 supplement to her starting state salary of $88,110 for a total first-year compensation of $124,798, published reports say.

Peterson made more, and legally. In Georgia, it is not unlawful for probate judges to pocket birth and death certificate fees. Critics contend it is unethical.

Peterson, from this position, in 2022 had annual compensation of $265,487, down slightly from the previous year’s $265,862.

For context, the chief justice for the Supreme Court that issued Tuesday’s ruling in 2022 earned $216,593. Taxpayers that year shelled out $175,000 for Gov. Brian Kemp.

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