July 11, 2008
Valdosta - Jurors began deliberating Friday afternoon in the federal extortion and perjury trial of Clinch County Associate Magistrate Judge Linda Peterson.
Representatives from the Judicial Qualifications Commission and attorneys for Judge Brooks Blitch, indicted Lanier Sheriff's Candidate Darrell Watson and Clinch County Sheriff Winston Peterson sat in on parts of the trial.
They know the outcome of Peterson's trial could foreshadow events to come as the FBI shakedown in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit continues.
But it will be Monday before the federal jury reaches a decision.
Jurors spend several hours behind locked doors Friday. But after five days of listening to witnesses, taped conversations and testimony, they simply needed more time.
In September, Peterson was charged with making a false statement and perjury. In March, the US Attorney's office tacked on the charge of conspiracy to commit extortion.
The jury's verdict and her fate will remain unknown until next week.
Peterson's trial is the result of a federal probe into the abuse of judicial and governmental power in the circuit.
It has resulted in nearly a dozen indictments.
Although former chief judge Brooks Blitch is named as a co-conspirator in many of the indictments, he has not been charged.