A North Georgia judge who brandished a gun in court last week has decided to step down from the bench.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Gov. Nathan Deal, Chief Superior Court Judge David E. Barrett of the Enotah Judicial Circuit said he was retiring today. Deal, who will name Barrett's replacement, accepted the retirement letter.
A week ago during a Lumpkin County court hearing, Barrett pulled out his handgun — not in anger but in frustration — to try and make a point to a witness who was testifying she had been an assault victim.
Pretending to offer his gun to the woman, Barrett said she was killing her case and then told her, "You might as well shoot your lawyer," according to District Attorney Jeff Langley, who was in the courtroom at the time. Langley said Barrett was trying to make "a poor rhetorical point."
Langley said he quickly approached the bench and told Barrett to put the gun away, which the judge did. "It was totally inappropriate conduct for a courtroom," Langley said in a recent interview. He stepped down amid a Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation into the incident.
Barrett has not returned phone calls seeking comment.
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, 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."