I don’t even know where to begin with this, so let’s just play it straight:
Last week, a now ex-judge in Georgia pulled out a handgun during a bond hearing, pretended to hand it to an alleged rape victim who was testifying, and said she was “killing her case” and “might as well shoot” her lawyer.
I wish this was a joke or a hoax story. But no, it actually happened.
Keep reading to find out who this former judge is (spoiler: it’s not Rooster Cogburn) and why he pulled his piece in court…
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Lumpkin County Superior Court Judge David E. Barrett pulled out his pistol Wednesday not in anger, but out of frustration and to make “a poor rhetorical point,” District Attorney Jeff Langley said Saturday. Langley, who was in the courtroom when it happened, said the Judicial Qualifications Commission has launched an investigation of the judge.
“It was totally inappropriate conduct for a courtroom,” Langley said. The district attorney said that he approached the bench after Barrett pulled out his gun and told the judge to put his pistol away. The judge did so and the hearing continued, Langley said.
Can you imagine that exchange? “Objection, Your Honor. Would the Court please put its Glock back under its robes?”
According to the Journal, this unbelievable scene unfolded last week during a bond hearing and request for a temporary protective order against Scott Sugarman, a former Hall County sheriff’s deputy recently arrested on a number of charges, including rape and aggravated assault with a handgun.
The repercussions of Judge Barrett’s shenanigans were swift. Earlier today, the former chief judge of the Enotah Judicial Circuit resigned/retired his post. He has not made any public comments about what happened. It is worth mentioning that under Georgia law judges can carry concealed firearms. But they cannot point them at a person without justification.
Maybe I’m crazy, but Barrett’s resignation seems to be the obvious, proper resolution to the situation. But the attorney who was questioning the uncooperative witness is remarkably sympathetic to Judge Barrett:
Gainesville lawyer Dan Summer, who was questioning the witness when Barrett pulled out his gun, said it “was a little bit reckless. … I was a little concerned when it was pointed at me.”
Summer also said the witness, who had testified she had been raped and assaulted, was being disrespectful, combative and unresponsive during her examination on the stand.
When Barrett pulled out the gun to make his point, Summer said, “It was consistent with the judge’s personality of injecting himself in litigation, except this time a bit more than he should.”
Summer said he was saddened to hear Barrett was stepping down.
“I certainly don’t encourage judges to pull guns out in a courtroom,” Summer said. “But you shouldn’t judge a man by a single page of the book of his life, not by a single incident.”
Are you kidding? Maybe this is an overanalysis, but it sounds like Summer is giving a backhanded justification to what Judge Barrett did. “The witness was uncooperative! We had to do something! It’s just this judge’s style, no big deal.”
I am all for taking things — and people — as wholes. It’s dangerous to pass judgment too quickly. But come on. In what world does a competent judge brandish a gun in court at a woman who might’ve been raped (or anyone, for that matter)? Who cares if the witness is uncooperative? If you go to Starbucks, and the barista is being unhelpful, you don’t go to the manager, pull out a hunting knife and say, “Your employee is so bad at serving coffee, you should just kill him.”
No offense, but I’m totally okay with the judgment passed on this judge because of this one page in his life.
N. Georgia judge investigated for brandishing gun in court [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Judge who brandished gun in court to leave bench [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Judge Pulls Gun In Courtroom: David Barrett Under Investigation In North Georgia [Huffington Post]