November 15, 2019 / 9:52 PM / a month ago

Indiana judges suspended after brawl outside White Castle

(Reuters) - The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended three county circuit court judges without pay for getting into an early-morning fist fight outside a fast-food restaurant that ended with two of them getting shot.

The altercation involving Clark County Circuit Judges Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs and Crawford County Circuit Judge Sabrina Bell was “not merely embarrassing on a personal level,” the Supreme Court said in a document released earlier this week, “they discredited the entire Indiana judiciary.”

The fight took place in May, when the judges were attending a judicial conference in Indianapolis. Around 3 a.m., as the jurists were walking to a White Castle restaurant after having drinks, the occupants of a passing car appeared to shout something out the window, the document said.

Judge Bell responded by extending her middle finger. The car pulled over, and two of the occupants, Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser, had a verbal altercation with the judges.

“I drink and get mouthy, and I’m fiery and I’m feisty,” Judge Bell later told police in a recorded statement, according to the court document.

The shouting match soon turned physical, the document said. Judge Jacobs held Kaiser on the ground, and Judge Adams kicked him in the back. Kaiser then pulled out a gun and shot Adams once in the abdomen and Jacobs twice in the chest.

Both were transported to local hospitals. Adams had two emergency surgeries, including a colon resectioning, and Jacobs had two emergency surgeries and was hospitalized for 14 days.

In September, Adams pleaded guilty to battery resulting in bodily injury and was ordered to serve two days in jail with the remainder of his 365-day sentence suspended.

Adams was suspended from his job on the bench without pay for 60 days.

A grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Judge Jacobs.

Jacobs and Judge Bell were suspended from their jobs without pay for 30 days.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach representatives of Judge Bell or Adams for comment.

An attorney for Jacobs, Larry Wilder, said the judge accepted his punishment and was happy to be returning to work.

Jacobs “acknowledged that his behavior that evening, although not illegal, was unbecoming of a judge and that his actions were injudicious and reflected poorly upon him and his peers on the bench,” Wilder said in an email.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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