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Metro Atlanta judge arrested at Buckhead nightclub, faces battery charge

Rosie Manins, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — Douglas County Probate Judge Christina J. Peterson was arrested at a Buckhead nightclub early Thursday and charged with battery and felony obstruction, accused of striking an officer on the head and refusing to identify herself, records show.

Peterson, who is the subject of a yearslong judicial misconduct investigation, was apprehended at the Red Martini Restaurant and Lounge on Peachtree Road. Fulton County Jail records show she faces a felony charge of willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence, and a charge of simple battery against a police officer.

The Atlanta Police Department said it is still preparing an incident report.

“I can only confirm that a Christina Janae Peterson was arrested for battery in response to a 911 call at the location of 3179 Peachtree Rd NE,” a police spokesperson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The incident report is still processing as the incident appeared to have just happened early this morning.”

An unofficial police report provided to the AJC states that a police officer was alerted to an incident near the club’s valet area, where they encountered a woman crying. While attempting to speak with the woman, the officer “was struck on the head by the arrestee identified as Ms. Christina Peterson who refused to identify herself and appeared to be under the influence.”

“Ms. Peterson was charged with obstruction and battery on an officer,” the unofficial report states.

Peterson remains at the Fulton County Jail, records show. She was due to appear remotely before a magistrate judge during an 11:30 a.m. hearing. Her bond was set at $5,000.

Peterson, who was elected to the bench unopposed in 2020, lost the Democratic primary in May. Her successor will be Douglasville attorney Valerie Vie, who does not face a Republican challenger in the November general election.

Peterson faces 30 ethics charges brought by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission, which recommended in late March that she be removed from office. The Georgia Supreme Court has yet to decide whether Peterson should be punished, and in what way.

The JQC said Peterson has violated the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct in a variety of ways.


Peterson, a University of Georgia School of Law graduate who practiced as an attorney for several years before taking the bench, was accused of inappropriate social media posts, unnecessarily jailing and fining a woman who sought to amend her marriage license and letting wedding participants into Douglas County’s courthouse after hours without permission. She was also abusive toward a fellow judge and other county officials, obstructed access to public records and had improper contact with a litigant, among other things, the JQC alleged.

Commission members also took issue with Peterson’s conduct as a judicial candidate — she publicly made ribald jokes, solicited money for her birthday and promoted events at Atlanta bars in connection with her 2020 election bid. They also found fault with her behavior at a 2022 meeting of her homeowners association, saying she mocked several attendees and lobbed “petty and sarcastic retorts” while inappropriately trying to influence a pending lawsuit that she had filed against the association and its directors.

“And so she must go,” a JQC panel said in its March 31 report to the state Supreme Court, citing Peterson’s “systemic incompetence.”

Peterson and her attorney in the ethics case asked the state Supreme Court in late April to reject the commission’s “erroneous factual findings contradicted by the records” and its recommendation that she be removed from the bench.

The judge was first charged with code violations in July 2021. At one point, she faced 50 separate counts, but 20 were withdrawn or dismissed.

Throughout the ethics case, Peterson has said that she has faced unfair criticism as the first Black probate judge in Douglas County. During a series of hearings before the commission panel last year, Peterson admitted to making mistakes in her first year as a judge while learning the ropes and said she was trying to do better.

Peterson acknowledged that it was “harsh” of her to jail and fine the woman who sought, without an attorney, to amend her marriage license in 2021. She also expressed regret about sending an April 2021 email to David Emerson, who at the time was the chief judge of the Douglas County Superior Court, questioning his judicial authority and competency and asking that he retire as “this county has outgrown your spirit.”

In its report, the panel said Peterson had been disingenuous, if not outright dishonest, during the investigation process. It said her testimony during the hearings was untruthful and evasive.


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