Magistrate Judge Anthony Peters of Catoosa County has been removed from office for misconduct. For our regulars on the bench, fear out. Peters, a non-lawyer, set the standard pretty high after smoking pot, kicking in doors, and pointing a gun at his own head.
One of the incidents detailed in the opinion below involved pointing a gun at his own head in 2009 and telling another judge, “I am not scared. Are you?” He also smoked marijuana at least once a week from March to May of 2010.
Here is a summary of the allegations:
The record reveals that a hearing was held before the JQC on the charges against Judge Peters on April 14-15, 2011, and that the JQC found, among other things, that Judge Peters had (1) violated Canon 22 of the Code of Judicial Conduct by obtaining and consuming marijuana at least once a week from March to May of 2010;3 (2) inappropriately used his judicial office to advance the personal interests of a family member (in violation of Canon 24 of the Code of Judicial Conduct) by showing up at the house of his sister-in-law’s estranged husband, identifying himself as a Magistrate Judge, and then kicking in two interior doors at the man’s home to gain access to two bedrooms;5 (3) violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct when, in the spring of 2009 in the Catoosa County Courthouse, he pointed a firearm at himself and indicated to another Magistrate Judge that he was not afraid to die by saying, “I am not scared. Are you all scared?”;6 (4) violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct by appearing on a local cable television show called “Night Talk” on June 21, 2010, and (a) making derogatory remarks about the Chief Magistrate Judge and calling him “spineless,” (b) publicly disclosing that he had filed a complaint with the JQC against the Chief Magistrate Judge, and (c) displaying a photograph of an individual and identifying that individual by name as a confidential informant of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s office;7 (5) violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct by making a phone call to a local cable television talk show on June 22, 2010, and, after initially trying to disguise his voice with multiple foreign accents while speaking with the Catoosa County Sheriff (who was being interviewed on the show), told the Sheriff that he had “crapped himself” and that the Sheriff was a “spineless jelly spine”;8 (6) violated Canon 3(B)(1)9 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and OCGA § 15-10-21,10 by refusing to work certain hours that had been specifically assigned to him by the Chief Magistrate Judge;11 and (7) based on all of the proven allegations, Judge Peters’ conduct violates Canon 1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to “establish, maintain, and enforc[e] high standards of conduct . . . so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.”
The fact that Peters is not a lawyer has nothing to do with these incidents since we have seen plenty of bizarre conduct from lawyers on the bench (here and here and here and here and here and here and here). However, I continue to have great reservations about these jobs going to folks without legal training. It is not that non-lawyers cannot do as good as a job, but legal training deepens the understanding and confidence of magistrates in reviewing matters. For example, a non-lawyer can issue warrants as a magistrate. However, that individual may be more confident in denying a warrant with training on the legal history and meaning of the fourth amendment. The fear is that some (not all) non-lawyer magistrates may be more inclined to accept the representations of prosecutors or police officers.
Here is the opinion: s11z1336
Source: ABA Journal