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September 19, 2014
Judge resigns after pulling pistol in court
by Matt Aiken
Feb 29, 2012 | 12 12 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judge David Barrett has resigned from his seat on the Enotah Judicial Circuit bench a week after he reportedly pulled out a pistol during a hearing in the Lumpkin County Justice Center in order to convey the point that an uncooperative witness was hurting her case and “killing” her lawyer.

Barrett sent his letter of retirement to Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday, bringing his 20-year judicial career to a close. Afterward, Barrett told The Nugget he did not want his family to have to go through the ordeal of a pending investigation by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission and possible protests from the public.

"I'm not putting up with that for my family," he said "It's called public service, not because you're getting rich."

News of Barrett's alleged courtroom behavior hit the Associated Press wire over the weekend and spread far and wide.

It was a controversy that began when Barrett extended his weapon to a witness, the victim of alleged gun violence, and reportedly suggested that it would be easier if she used the gun instead on her attorney Andrea Conarro, according to District Attorney Jeff Langley.

The incident drew an immediate response from Langley as he approached the bench and asked Barrett to put away the handgun.

“I felt I had a responsibility to do so,” he said. “I didn’t feel the judge was actually threatening anyone, but I felt the display of the gun was inappropriate.”

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said at least one deputy was present at the hearing and did not feel inclined to take action when the weapon emerged.

“A judge is authorized to carry a gun in a courtroom at all times and there is no violation in the law in that,” he said. “ ... It is was my understanding he was using it as a prop.”

Langley said he got the same impression from Barrett as he took issue with a witness who was “not being cooperative with her own attorney.”

“In Judge Barrett’s defense he was making a rhetorical point using the gun,” Langley said. “He did not point the gun in anger. Now was that the proper thing in the courtroom? I have to say no.”

Rich Reaves, executive director of the University of Georgia’s Institute of Continuing Judicial Education, told The Nugget that Barrett’s actions weren’t just improper but a violation of the judicial canon in more ways than one.

“What does that communicate to the average citizen?” he said. “ ... Just the gun in itself probably communicates that there’s something less than wholesome about the [proceedings].”

Reaves said Barrett’s involvement in the case, with or without a firearm, was most likely inappropriate as well.

“That happens without a gun probably quite often,” he said. “The question is should it happen? Should a judge be commenting upon the trajectory of a case? The answer to that question is no.”

The Nugget requested a transcript of the courtroom proceedings from Appalachian Court Reporting but it was not provided in time for press.

Though the each courtroom in the new Justice Center has been outfitted with surveillance camera an apparent “glitch” is keeping officials from viewing any footage of the proceedings, said Jarrard.

“It’s a problem that’s been ongoing for a while,” he said.

Jarrard added that footage might still be salvageable but will need technical maintenance.

Conarro declined to comment on the incident.
Comments
(12)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Marcus Ward
|
March 08, 2012
He is the reason I left Lumpkin County after working to help the good people of Dahlonega for approx 4 years. That town made me feel at home like no other place I have ever lived. I would most probably still be there and think back on my time there fondly.
BWCounty
|
March 06, 2012
Thankfully this rouge judge is out. Goes to show the mentality of the 70% of White County residents who voted for him. He should be investigated thoroughly as should all his good ol’ buddies and cronies in the law enforcement and attorney circles. Throw the book at them as they have done to others!
David7543
|
March 06, 2012
Since when should a judge ever interject himself in a legal proceeding in such an unprofessional manner? I sense great hubris here, until the press got wind of it and cast the man from his throne. Thanks Nugget! I wonder how this man actually presided cases in the past. Was he fair and balanced, or did he display the kind of irrational temperment that caused him to loose his status within the community? As far as the courtroom "glitch", talk about destroying credibility with the public Mr. Jarrard. Do you have such glitch problems in your corrections facility as well?
Saul Good
|
March 03, 2012
It's about time this arrogant man (I use the term "man" lightly here) stepped down from the bench. He wanted to spare his family the agony of his being investigated? Perhaps he should think of all the families he ripped apart while using his powers on the bench to often cause more harm than good. Good bye!
Mr Smith
|
March 02, 2012
Sorry to see Judge Barrets 20 year career end this way. I guess he was always sortof contraversiol.
Sue Deaunym
|
March 01, 2012
Barrett is not the only Lumpkin county judge that is in a quandry. There are rumors of ethical problems with Lynn Alderman, and she is said to be "retiring" soon, as well. I hope these are signs of a new integrity of our local judicial system, and that some serious house-cleaning, soul-searching and rehabilitation is forthcoming.
R. Eckert
|
March 01, 2012
Imagine that, the surveillance camera had an apparent "glitch" so no one knows just how it came about. Same thing seems to happen on the bus all the time when the school or the bus driver is at fault. That's the small town syndrome for you.
lisa k
|
February 29, 2012
just goes to show you how corrupte the judical system is exspecially in union county.
Pamela Jo
|
February 29, 2012
It's about time he stepped down! Good news for White and Lumpkin County. This judge has always let his personal issues affect his judgement in the courtroom. A glitch in the surveillance camera? Really? Do they think we are that stupid??
Sue Deaunym
|
March 01, 2012
Could be a "glitch." Since it has "footage," it must harken back to the days of videotape, when the recording medium was measured by the foot. If it's that old, I'm surprised it's working at all.
Frank Holbrook
|
February 29, 2012
How embarassing. I heard this earlier, but didn;t realize it happened here. Since when does a judge need a prop to convey his message anyways?
Judge resigns after pulling pistol in court
by Matt Aiken
Feb 29, 2012 | 9500 views | 12 12 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Judge David Barrett has resigned from his seat on the Enotah Judicial Circuit bench a week after he reportedly pulled out a pistol during a hearing in the Lumpkin County Justice Center in order to convey the point that an uncooperative witness was hurting her case and “killing” her lawyer.

Barrett sent his letter of retirement to Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday, bringing his 20-year judicial career to a close. Afterward, Barrett told The Nugget he did not want his family to have to go through the ordeal of a pending investigation by the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission and possible protests from the public.

"I'm not putting up with that for my family," he said "It's called public service, not because you're getting rich."

News of Barrett's alleged courtroom behavior hit the Associated Press wire over the weekend and spread far and wide.

It was a controversy that began when Barrett extended his weapon to a witness, the victim of alleged gun violence, and reportedly suggested that it would be easier if she used the gun instead on her attorney Andrea Conarro, according to District Attorney Jeff Langley.

The incident drew an immediate response from Langley as he approached the bench and asked Barrett to put away the handgun.

“I felt I had a responsibility to do so,” he said. “I didn’t feel the judge was actually threatening anyone, but I felt the display of the gun was inappropriate.”

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said at least one deputy was present at the hearing and did not feel inclined to take action when the weapon emerged.

“A judge is authorized to carry a gun in a courtroom at all times and there is no violation in the law in that,” he said. “ ... It is was my understanding he was using it as a prop.”

Langley said he got the same impression from Barrett as he took issue with a witness who was “not being cooperative with her own attorney.”

“In Judge Barrett’s defense he was making a rhetorical point using the gun,” Langley said. “He did not point the gun in anger. Now was that the proper thing in the courtroom? I have to say no.”

Rich Reaves, executive director of the University of Georgia’s Institute of Continuing Judicial Education, told The Nugget that Barrett’s actions weren’t just improper but a violation of the judicial canon in more ways than one.

“What does that communicate to the average citizen?” he said. “ ... Just the gun in itself probably communicates that there’s something less than wholesome about the [proceedings].”

Reaves said Barrett’s involvement in the case, with or without a firearm, was most likely inappropriate as well.

“That happens without a gun probably quite often,” he said. “The question is should it happen? Should a judge be commenting upon the trajectory of a case? The answer to that question is no.”

The Nugget requested a transcript of the courtroom proceedings from Appalachian Court Reporting but it was not provided in time for press.

Though the each courtroom in the new Justice Center has been outfitted with surveillance camera an apparent “glitch” is keeping officials from viewing any footage of the proceedings, said Jarrard.

“It’s a problem that’s been ongoing for a while,” he said.

Jarrard added that footage might still be salvageable but will need technical maintenance.

Conarro declined to comment on the incident.
Comments
(12)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Marcus Ward
|
March 08, 2012
He is the reason I left Lumpkin County after working to help the good people of Dahlonega for approx 4 years. That town made me feel at home like no other place I have ever lived. I would most probably still be there and think back on my time there fondly.
BWCounty
|
March 06, 2012
Thankfully this rouge judge is out. Goes to show the mentality of the 70% of White County residents who voted for him. He should be investigated thoroughly as should all his good ol’ buddies and cronies in the law enforcement and attorney circles. Throw the book at them as they have done to others!
David7543
|
March 06, 2012
Since when should a judge ever interject himself in a legal proceeding in such an unprofessional manner? I sense great hubris here, until the press got wind of it and cast the man from his throne. Thanks Nugget! I wonder how this man actually presided cases in the past. Was he fair and balanced, or did he display the kind of irrational temperment that caused him to loose his status within the community? As far as the courtroom "glitch", talk about destroying credibility with the public Mr. Jarrard. Do you have such glitch problems in your corrections facility as well?
Saul Good
|
March 03, 2012
It's about time this arrogant man (I use the term "man" lightly here) stepped down from the bench. He wanted to spare his family the agony of his being investigated? Perhaps he should think of all the families he ripped apart while using his powers on the bench to often cause more harm than good. Good bye!
Mr Smith
|
March 02, 2012
Sorry to see Judge Barrets 20 year career end this way. I guess he was always sortof contraversiol.
Sue Deaunym
|
March 01, 2012
Barrett is not the only Lumpkin county judge that is in a quandry. There are rumors of ethical problems with Lynn Alderman, and she is said to be "retiring" soon, as well. I hope these are signs of a new integrity of our local judicial system, and that some serious house-cleaning, soul-searching and rehabilitation is forthcoming.
R. Eckert
|
March 01, 2012
Imagine that, the surveillance camera had an apparent "glitch" so no one knows just how it came about. Same thing seems to happen on the bus all the time when the school or the bus driver is at fault. That's the small town syndrome for you.
lisa k
|
February 29, 2012
just goes to show you how corrupte the judical system is exspecially in union county.
Pamela Jo
|
February 29, 2012
It's about time he stepped down! Good news for White and Lumpkin County. This judge has always let his personal issues affect his judgement in the courtroom. A glitch in the surveillance camera? Really? Do they think we are that stupid??
Sue Deaunym
|
March 01, 2012
Could be a "glitch." Since it has "footage," it must harken back to the days of videotape, when the recording medium was measured by the foot. If it's that old, I'm surprised it's working at all.
Frank Holbrook
|
February 29, 2012
How embarassing. I heard this earlier, but didn;t realize it happened here. Since when does a judge need a prop to convey his message anyways?