A pistol
A Georgia judge recently pulled a gun in court to make a point to a witness. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A judge in the North Atlanta area has become something of a news item for a stunt he pulled in court. While a witness was on the stand in a sexual assault case, Judge David Barrett pulled out his gun and offered it to her, telling her she might as well kill her lawyer.

Hearing takes turn for the strange

In the 1979 film “And Justice For All,” an eccentric judge played by Jack Warden pulls a gun during a hearing that has gotten out of hand and fires it, restoring order. Later in the film, Al Pacino goes on the epic “You’re out of order” rant. The idea of judge pulling a gun in real life, though, is ludicrous.

However, judicial restraint doesn’t seem to have entered the mind of Judge David Barrett, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Barrett, a judge for the Lumpkin County Superior Court in the North Atlanta area, was presiding over a hearing. When a witness wasn’t testifying to his liking, he told her she was “killing her case.” After that he pulled out a pistol, mockingly offered it to her, and told her “You might as well kill your lawyer.”

Wonderful thing to say to a rape victim

The woman in question, according to the Daily Mail, is not being named, as she is a sexual assault victim. The hearing was to determine whether or not her alleged rapist, Scott Sugarman, should be released on bond before trial. Sugarman, a former police officer, is charged with aggravated assault with a handgun and rape, after allegedly assaulting her at gunpoint.

Jeff Langley, the prosecuting attorney, approached the bench and told Barrett to put the gun away, which he did. Andrea Conarro, the attorney representing the witness, told reporters that the events seemed to be in “slow motion.” An investigation has been launched into the manner but no charges have been filed against Judge Barrett.

Odd but not unprecedented

It seems bizarre, but some areas, including the area Judge Barrett resides in, allow judges to carry handguns while presiding on the bench — but not to brandish them in court. However, other judges have done so.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Judge Garry Sampson, of the Lehi Justice Court, was reprimanded in 2010 by the Utah Supreme Court for pointing his gun at a bailiff. The bailiff and the judge were in the midst of a humorous exchange when the judge pointed a gun at him in a joking manner.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Judge Carlton Teel in Alabama drew a firearm in an act of self-defense on Feb. 4 this year, when a defendant approached the bench and began swinging his crutch at Teel. Teel pulled his pistol out, but did not fire on Bryant Ford, 25, who had just been pronounced guilty of harassment. Ford was instead shot by a police officer and taken to a hospital.

Sources

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Daily Mail

Belfast Telegraph

Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14465673?source=most_viewed

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