Judge improving after shooting; Supreme Court seeking temporary replacements

One of the two Clark County judges wounded in an Indianapolis shooting early Wednesday morning is improving after initially being in critical condition. Meanwhile, action is being taken to temporarily fill the now empty bench seats of the two injured judges.

The Indiana Supreme Court said Thursday that Clark Circuit Judge Bradley Jacobs underwent surgery Thursday morning and is now in serious but stable condition. The court reported Wednesday morning that Judge Andrew Adams was in stable condition, though it did not have an update as of Thursday morning.  

The Indianapolis hospitals where the men are believed to be admitted, Eskenazi Health and IU Health Methodist, would not confirm if the men were being treated there.

While the judges remain hospitalized, the Supreme Court’ Office of Judicial Administration “is working with Judge (Vicki) Carmichael to ensure the administration of justice continues in Clark County with senior judges and pro tem judges,” who are needed to oversee operations in the courtrooms of Adams and Jacobs.

Both judges were in Indianapolis for the Spring Judicial Conference, one of many continuing education programs hosted by the Indiana Supreme Court, when they were shot in the parking lot of the downtown Indianapolis White Castle. Hundreds of judges from across the state attend the three-day conference – including Adams, Jacobs and Clark County Presiding Judge Vicki Carmichael.

Carmichael, who presides over Clark Circuit Court 4, said received the news early Wednesday morning that Adams and Jacobs were shot in a “random act of violence.” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police said nothing suggested the attacks were based on Adams and Jacobs’ profession.

Adams, who was elected and took office in January 2015, presides over Clark Circuit Court 1, where he hears major felony, estate, guardianship and civil tort cases. He was certified to run a Veteran’s Treatment Court in April 2018 and has received provisional certification for an Adult Problem-Solving Court beginning in December 2019. 

Adams is a graduate of Indiana University-Southeast and IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He is also a United States Marine Corps veteran, is married and has three children.

Jacobs presides over Clark Circuit Court 2 and also took office in January 2015. In his courtroom, Jacobs hears all drug-related crime cases.

Jacobs graduated from Indiana University-Southeast and University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. He is a U.S. Marine Corps reserve veteran, is married with three children and enjoys speaking at schools to encourage students.

Both judges are involved in the Clark County CARES program, a grassroots organization that promotes awareness and education to the local community regarding the opioid epidemic.

A prayer vigil was held for both judges Wednesday evening at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Jeffersonville, quickly pulled together by Rev. Nancy Woodworth-Hill, who also facilities the CARES program. 

Woodworth-Hill hadn’t yet begun to eat her breakfast when she was informed of the shooting Wednesday morning. But by the time she received a third phone call about the incident, she knew the community needed something to happen.

The evening vigil drew in at least 160 community members, Woodworth-Hill said, with standing room only. Candles were lit and time was dedicated for song, silence and prayer.

“They were grateful to have had that solace to hold these gentlemen in their thoughts and prayers and hearts,” Woodworth-Hill said. “I think that when a community is able to gather and be together, they are much greater than gathered individuals can be.

“I do know the community has great love and affection for these two judges, and they showed up,” she added.  

Woodworth-Hill, who has worked alongside the judges with the CARES program, said Adams and Jacobs are well-regarded in the community. Both are willing to help where needed and aim to better the lives of those around them in and out of the courtroom.  

“If you think of a judge, you think of someone standing there making judgment over people’s lives,” she said. “But these guys really care. I find them just really lovely human beings. I’m glad that they serve here.”

The Indiana legal community has also offered support and prayers for the injured judges, with representatives from the Clark County Bar Association and Indiana State Bar Association releasing statements in response to the “terrible news.” Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush also released a statement, saying she met with the judges’ families following the shooting.

“Our judges across the state are heartbroken to learn of this violent act against our colleagues,” Rush said. “We send our prayers for a speedy recovery for both Judge Jacobs and Judge Adams and our love and support to their families and the Clark County community.”

Clark County courts were closed Wednesday but have reopened today. Senior judges and/or judges pro tempore have not yet been appointed to serve in Adams’ and Jacobs’ absences.

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