published Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Accused Catoosa judge says he won't step down

A Catoosa County judge, who is being accused by a state agency of using drugs and threatening co-workers, says he will fight the charges.

"I'm not stepping down," said Magistrate Anthony Peters. "I'm going to fight it to the fullest because I've done nothing wrong."

According to court documents, the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission is accusing Peters of using marijuana for several months, manipulating his position for family members and pointing a gun at himself and threatening another judge by saying, "I'm not scared. Are you?"

The formal charges that accuse Peters of 13 violations of the judicial code of conduct Tuesday were filed in the Georgia Supreme Court.

Peters has not returned to work since he was hauled out of the Catoosa County Courthouse in handcuffs in June when he and his boss, Chief Magistrate Donald "Sonny" Caldwell, got into a heated argument.

Peters claimed the argument occurred after he told Caldwell that he had filed a complaint against the senior judge with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates complaints against judges.

Peters' complaint raised questions about Caldwell's campaign finances and alleged misuse of county time.

Caldwell said Tuesday that the judicial commission investigated him, but dismissed the allegations in December.

Among the complaints against Peters are accusations that he did not follow Caldwell's orders and made derogatory comments against the senior judge, including calling him "spineless."

According to the court documents, Peters was also using marijuana weekly from April to July 2010.

He is also being accused of threatening a Catoosa County sheriff's deputy who made a complaint about Magistrate Court and also is accused of yelling an obscenity out the window of a Ringgold, Ga., business at a local resident.

Peters declined to comment about the individual charges, saying he said he hasn't been served the court documents.

After Peters is served, his attorney, Chris Townley, has 30 days to send a written response, said judicial commission Director Jeff Davis. Peters' public hearing on the complaint will be held in late March or early April, he said.

Peters also has a pending criminal case on charges of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct stemming from the June incident with Caldwell at the courthouse.

Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kermit McManus said he will wait until after Peters' hearing to decide if he will prosecute the criminal case.

Even though Peters hasn't been allowed back to work since June, he must be paid his full salary, under state law. Catoosa County officials said Tuesday they weren't sure if they could stop paying Peters now that the judicial commission has filed formal complaints.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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cannonball said...

Another black eye for the north georgia justice system.

February 9, 2011 at 6 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Yeah, no joke, how hard is it to say "pee in this here cup, and we'll get this one off the table right now".

I guess those who wield the law like some mighty axe of destruction, are far removed from the duty to abide by it.

February 9, 2011 at 9:34 a.m.
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