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Judge who pulled gun out in Lumpkin courtroom retires
0301David Barett
David Barrett

Judge David Barrett, who last week pulled a gun out during a court hearing in Lumpkin County, has retired, according to a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal dated Wednesday.

Barrett was presiding over a bond hearing for former Hall County deputy Scott Sugarman last week when he pulled out his gun and pretended to offer it to an uncooperative witness, the presiding prosecutor said.

The resignation, which was accepted by Deal, takes effect today.

Barrett was the chief judge of the Enotah Judicial Circuit that comprises Lumpkin, Towns, Union and White counties in Northeast Georgia.

"In this case, a lapse of judgment in terms of the display of that gun has cost him a great deal, and it's a sad thing," District Attorney Steve Langley said.

On Saturday, Langley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Barrett seemed frustrated rather than threatening when he drew his gun during a hearing Feb. 25 in Lumpkin County Superior Court.

The witness was testifying that the deputy had abused her and one time had placed a gun to her head, Langley said, but she became uncooperative later.

Barrett pretended to offer the pistol to the witness, telling the woman she was "killing her case," Langley said. He called the display "a poor rhetorical point."

Reports of Barrett's actions were delivered to the state Judicial Qualifications Commission last week.

Langley said he did not think the judge's retirement would affect the Sugarman case, except that it will require a new judge.

He called the case and Barrett's actions "two completely separate issues."

Sugarman, who resigned as a deputy earlier this month, is charged with rape and aggravated assault with a handgun. He has pleaded not guilty.

A hearing had been scheduled for Friday before news broke of the judge's actions.

Langley said he will request the hearing date be kept with a new judge. The district attorney, who was critical of Barrett's actions last week, extended praise of his time as chief judge.

"I've practiced before him for 13 years and I've learned a lot," he told The Times. "He has a quick mind, great legal knowledge and unimpeachable integrity."