Clark Circuit judge wounded in shooting enters guilty plea

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

One of the two judges hospitalized after a downtown Indianapolis shooting has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in connection with the May 1 incident. The judge will not serve any jail time.

Clark Circuit Judge Andrew Adams pleaded guilty Monday to Class A misdemeanor battery against Brandon Kaiser, one of two other men charged in the shooting outside of a downtown Indianapolis White Castle. Marion Superior Criminal Division 18 Judge William Nelson sentenced Adams to 365 days, with 363 days suspended without probation and credit for two days served.

Speaking at a hearing Monday, an emotional Adams apologized to his wife and children, as well as to the legal profession, for the “regretful situation” that he promised would not happen again.

Adams had been scheduled to appear in Nelson’s court Monday afternoon for a pretrial conference, but Nelson announced from the bench that a plea agreement had been reached.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Adams pleaded guilty to Count IV, Class A misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury. According to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, whose office prosecuted the case, the battery change stems from Adams’ admission that he kicked Kaiser during the altercation.

The Clark County judge had been charged with seven counts, including two Level 6 felony battery charges, but the remaining six counts were dismissed. The same plea agreement has been offered to Alfredo Vazquez, Kaiser’s nephew who faces the same seven charges as Adams.

Adams’ plea stems from the May 1 shooting, when he and fellow Clark Circuit Judge Bradley Jacobs were at the downtown White Castle at around 3:30 a.m. A fight broke out between the judges, Kaiser and Vasquez, and shots were fired.

Adams was reportedly shot in the stomach and Jacobs was shot twice, at least one time in the chest. Adams was hospitalized in stable condition, but Jacobs was initially admitted in critical condition.

Adams was represented by Indianapolis attorney Jennifer Lukemeyer. Speaking on his behalf in court, Lukemeyer said the judge does not have a very good memory of what happened on the morning on May 1. Calling the incident a “mutual combat engagement,” she noted both judges spent 16 days in the hospital after the shooting and said Adams still has health issues related to the exit wound.

Lukemeyer then said she believes Adams is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, made worse by his viewing of security camera footage that captured the shooting. During the incident, she said Adams crawled to Jacobs and urged first responders to tend to his wounds first before tending to Adams.

The defendant judge was quiet and solemn throughout the proceedings, answering “Yes, your honor” when Nelson and spoke and looking down while reading his allocution statement. Nelson himself was also solemn, becoming quiet for a few moments while contemplating a sentence for his fellow judge.

The Marion County judge recalled sitting in the audience at the Indiana Spring Judicial Conference — the same conference Adams and Jacobs had been in Indianapolis to attend — when Chief Justice Loretta Rush announced that the judges had been “gravely injured” in a shooting. Nelson said a hush fell over the crowd as Rush delivered the news, and he prayed for the wounded judges later that same night.

Nelson also said he felt silly reading the advisement of rights to Adams, a judge who has read the same advisement to numerous defendants appearing before him in Clark County. Adams’ case was not the first time Nelson has stood in judgment of a fellow jurist, he said, and the job is never easy.

Nelson lamented the fact that regardless of his decision in Adams’ case, there would be those who believed he had not taken the right course. But the judge said he prides himself on always doing the right thing, regardless of who the defendant before him is.

Reading from the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, Nelson noted the responsibility for judges to “avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives.” He said the judiciary is the only profession where its members are held to a higher standard both on and off the clock.

But “judges are human, too,” he said.

In handing down the suspended sentence, to which the state did not object, Nelson noted Adams has already completed community service through his time on the bench and in the Marines. He ordered the Clark County jurist to pay a $100 fine plus costs, then wished him luck as he exited the courtroom.

Walking out of court with her client, Lukemeyer declined to comment on the guilty plea and sentence.

Kaiser is scheduled for a Sept. 23 jury trial for the 14 counts brought against him related to the shooting. If Vazquez does not accept the plea agreement, he is currently scheduled for a jury trial on Nov. 18.

Jacobs was not indicted by the grand jury.

Adams is also facing a judicial discipline case. He was suspended from the bench with pay on June 28, the same day he was criminally charged and formal discipline proceedings were brought against him.

Senior judges were appointed to serve in Clark County while Adams and Jacobs were hospitalized. Jacobs returned to the bench in July, while Senior Judge Steven M. Fleece has been presiding over Adams’ court, Clark Circuit Court 1.

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