Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Indiana Judges Shot at White Castle Brawl

I have always held the opinion that not much good happens at 3 AM in White Castle parking lots. But of course I am not an Indiana circuit court judge so I am by definition not too smart. 

Indiana judges, being much smarter than I, know that there is nothing wrong with getting drunk and starting or escalating fights with people with unknown capacities and sincere desires to put a hurting on someone.

Three Indiana judges recently decided to demonstrate the wisdom, soberness and character that shows why we extend such deference to judges in general. After their show of probity all three judges were suspended from the bench. So I guess at least for a little while they won't be able to enjoy such job perks as telling people to sit down and be quiet, having everyone stand up when they enter or leave the room, threatening to put people in jail for disagreeing with them, interrupting other professionals any time they feel like it, or lecturing grown men and women in tones dripping with condescension. Oh well.

The judges’ plan, if there ever was one, was to enjoy a couple of drinks with their colleagues the night before a judicial conference in Indianapolis.

But by 3 a.m. the next morning, three Indiana circuit court judges, by way of a failed attempt to enter a strip club, were brawling with two strangers outside a White Castle in a drunken melee that ended with two of the judges shot and in critical condition in a hospital.

In the latest repercussion from that night, the judges, Andrew Adams, Bradley B. Jacobs and Sabrina R. Bell, were this week suspended from the bench by the Indiana Supreme Court for having “gravely undermined public trust in the dignity and decency of Indiana’s judiciary.”

Around 12:30 a.m., all three were drinking with a court magistrate at another bar, throwing darts and playing cornhole. About 3 a.m. they headed for the strip club, which had just closed for the night.

The four officers of the court then walked to a nearby White Castle. The magistrate went inside while the three judges waited in the parking lot. At that time two men, Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser, drove by in a blue S.U.V. and “shouted something out the window,” according to the Supreme Court opinion. With no gavel to register her displeasure, Judge Bell extended her middle finger instead.

The two men objected, and after they parked their vehicle in the White Castle parking lot, a “heated verbal altercation ensued” — with all parties yelling, using profanity and making “dismissive, mocking, or insolent gestures.”

The dispute quickly escalated into a brawl — at one point Judge Adams kicked Mr. Kaiser in the back — but it appeared to have ended when Judge Jacobs had Mr. Kaiser pinned down, with his fist raised to strike.“This is over,” Judge Jacobs said, according to the opinion. “Tell me this is over.” 

If only it was: Mr. Kaiser pulled out a firearm, shooting Judge Adams once and Judge Jacobs twice, according to the police. Judge Adams needed two emergency operations, including to repair damage to his colon. Judge Jacobs, who was shot twice in the chest, had two operations during a 14-day hospitalization.

Now the article does not detail who actually became physical first, that is who threw the first kick or punch. That is to me, relevant information. Indiana is a stand your ground state. A person has the right to defend themselves with deadly force. It doesn't seem right that the judges get away with misdemeanor charges, suspended sentences and job suspensions while Kaiser is facing eight felony charges and a trial. I don't suppose that the judge in Kaiser's trial will be too sympathetic at sentencing, should Kaiser be convicted. If I were Kaiser I would definitely be telling my defense attorneys to investigate making stand your ground/self defense claims. 

All that aside I would suspect that the three judges have learned the hard way that all that bowing and scraping that people have to do for them inside their courtrooms does not, repeat, does not, extend to the streets. 
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