Indiana- Three judges walk into a bar… what sounds like a bad joke was a very real night of revelry and poor judgement for three Indiana state court officials.
On April 30, Judge Andrew Adams, Judge Bradley Jacobs and Judge Sabrina Bell headed to Indianapolis for the Spring Judicial College, a statewide judicial educational event. All three began their evening professionally socializing with colleagues in the state capital.
However, as the night grew later, the trio agreed to take the festivities to a nearby bar.
According to an official publication by the Indiana Supreme Court, the three judges convened along with Magistrate William Dawkins around midnight. After about two and a half hours of drinking, the four sworn court officers decided to continue celebrating at the Red Garter, a local strip club.
However, they were dismayed to find that the establishment was already closed for the evening upon their arrival.
Magistrate Dawkins spotted a nearby White Castle which was still serving at 3:00 am so the raucous ensemble of now intoxicated judges made their way to the restaurant. Judges Adams, Bradley and Bell remained in the parking lot while Magistrate Dawkins went inside to order.
The Honorable Sabrina R. Bell, in an inebriated state, then made one ill-planned gesture that would change not only the evening’s events, but the future careers of all the judges in attendance. As the occupants of a passing car drove by shouting, Judge Bell raised a pointed middle finger at the car.
The occupants of the car, Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser pulled into the White Castle parking lot and a full-on skirmish ensued. The three drunk judges got into a heated altercation with Vasquez and Kaiser including profanity laced shouting and “mocking or insolent gestures” the Indiana Supreme Court concludes.
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It didn’t take long for the verbal altercation to turn physical. Surveillance footage shows Judge Andrew Adams kick Brandon Kaiser in the back. Further Judge Jacobs at one point had the same man laid out on the ground as the judge had a fist raised above him.
Then the parking lot scuffle turned nearly lethal when Kaiser pulled out a gun and shot Judge Jacobs twice in the chest and Judge Adams once in the abdomen. The still drunk Judge Sabrina Bell rushed to seek the aid of the White Castle employees and called 911 for emergency help.
Both Judge Jacobs and Adams required surgery and extensive hospital stays.
The Honorable Sabrina Bell claims that she was so intoxicated that she has no recollection of the night’s events. However, recovered surveillance footage shows her participation. However, she did comment to police that she felt it was her fault and further said:
“I’m not denying that I said something or egged it on … because I drink … I mean I fully acknowledge that I drink and get mouthy, and I’m fiery and I’m feisty, but if I would have ever thought for a second that they were gonna fight or that that guy had a gun on him, I would never, never …”
The preamble of the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct reads the their legal system “is based upon the principle that an independent, impartial, and competent judiciary, composed of men and women of integrity, will interpret and apply the law that governs our society.”
The justices of the Indiana Supreme Court found that the three judges had violated the expectations of their respective roles.
Beyond disciplinary measures imposed by Supreme Court justices, Judge Adams was charged with one count of misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct, two counts of felony Battery Resulting in Moderate Injury, two counts of Class B misdemeanor Battery and two counts of Class A misdemeanor Battery Resulting in Bodily Injury.
Judge Adams was sentenced to 365 days in prison but was only required to actually serve 2 as a whopping 363 of those days were suspended.
The Indiana Supreme Court expressed in its publication on the matter that professional discipline would have meaningful lasting impact on the three judges. It reads:
“A suspension from office without pay, regardless of duration, is not a minor sanction. Even more than a public reprimand, any such suspension is a significant blemish on a sitting judge’s reputation.”
Judge Adams was suspended without pay for 60 days. Judge Jacobs and Judge Bell were suspended for 30 days. All three judges will be permitted to return to their judicial positions.
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