Three Indiana judges have been suspended without pay for their involvement in a shooting during a drunken brawl outside a White Castle restaurant in May.
The state Supreme Court said in an order published Tuesday that the county circuit judges — Andrew Adams and Bradley B. Jacobs of Clark County and Sabrina R. Bell or Crawford County — behaved in a way that was "not merely embarrassing on a personal level; they discredited the entire Indiana judiciary."
Adams previously was sentenced to a year in jail with all but two days suspended after he pleaded guilty to battery in the incident, during which he and Jacobs suffered gunshot wounds.
An investigation by the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications depicted the judges as wandering the streets of Indianapolis, where they were attending a judicial conference, in a drunken haze in the middle of the night on May 1.
The judges and a fourth man, Clark County Magistrate William Dawkins, met up at a bar where they drank for several hours before deciding to go to a strip club, which was closed, investigators said. So they then went to the White Castle.
The judges remained outside while Dawkins went inside at about 3:15 a.m., according to judicial documents. That was when two men drove by in a car and shouted something out the window, to which Bell "extended her middle finger" in response, investigators said.
The men pulled into the parking lot and got out, which led to "a heated verbal altercation ... with all participants yelling, using profanity, and making dismissive, mocking, or insolent gestures toward the other group," according to the documents.
The confrontation ended when one of the men from the car, identified as Brandon Kaiser, pulled a gun and shot Adams once and Jacobs twice, investigators said. Both men underwent emergency surgery and were hospitalized for several days.
Investigators said Adams kicked Kaiser in the back during the scuffle. That's why he was criminally charged with battery, while Jacobs and Bell weren't charged.
According to court documents, the investigation found that Bell was so drunk she couldn't remember flipping off the car, but she "concedes that the security camera video shows her making this gesture."
In her statement to detectives, Bell said she was good friends with Adams and Jacobs, whom she described as "very protective of me."
She also told investigators that she gets "mouthy" when she drinks.
"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 ...," Bell said, according to court documents. The quotation trails off in the original document.
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All three judges were brought up on disciplinary charges, leading to this week's order. The Supreme Court suspended Adams for 60 days and Jacobs and Bell for 30 days, all without pay. Dawkins, the magistrate, was inside the White Castle at the time of the altercation and wasn't part of the case.
Kaiser is scheduled for trial in early January on 14 counts of aggravated battery, battery with a deadly weapon, battery, carrying an unlicensed handgun and disorderly conduct.
The other man in the car, Alfredo Vazquez, who is Kaiser's nephew, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in early November and was sentenced to 180 days of home detention and a year of probation.