PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A lawyer defending a Pittsburgh corporation previously accused a West Virginia judge of pulling a gun out of his robe and pointing it at her in court.
Last month, KDKA-TV talked with attorney Lauren Varnado, who accused Judge David Hummel of waving a handgun from the bench in a threatening manner.
“He pulls out his gun, points it in a waving motion like he was scanning, first at the defense counsel, and then places it on the bench and then slowly turns it to make sure the barrel of it is pointed at me,” Varnado told KDKA-TV in July.
KDKA-TV has obtained a video of the incident from the New Martinsville, West Virginia courtroom. In the courtroom video, KDKA-TV does not see Hummel scanning the courtroom with the firearm, but we do see the gun in open court.
The video shows the judge moving it across the bench and placing it to the side for the duration of the hearing. The audio is not clear but later in the hearing, KDKA-TV does see him address the court and lift up the gun for those in the courtroom to see.
“In the moment in my head, I was thinking surely he’s not going to do anything,” Varnado told KDKA-TV in July. “Surely it’s not loaded, but I do know it’s not proper gun safety to hold it that way, to point it at people, to leave a gun lying around.”
Varnado represented the Pittsburgh-based EQT Corporation in what became a heated trial over gas drilling mineral rights in which she had asked the judge to be removed because of a conflict of interest.
Since that hearing in March, Varnado has more than once come to Pittsburgh to speak with FBI Pittsburgh, which will neither confirm nor deny an investigation. But in a letter to Varnado, Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught said he reviewed the tapes and has determined Hummel has committed no crimes.
“I did not see or hear him threaten you nor did I see him point the firearm at you,” he said.
Varnado declined to comment on Friday, but last month she told KDKA-TV that she was frightened by the incident and doesn’t believe Hummel should remain a judge.