Judge appointed to Crawford Circuit Court to replace Bell following resignation

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A vacancy opened by an embattled former judge’s resignation has been filled by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

On Wednesday, Holcomb announced his appointment of Justin Brandt Mills to the Crawford Circuit Court. He replaces former Judge Sabrina Bell, who resigned earlier this year following an alleged domestic violence incident.

Mills has worked in private practice since 2011 and has practiced in Crawford County since 2014. He previously served as a deputy prosecutor in Crawford County.

He will be sworn in on a date to be determined.

In addition to resigning her judicial post, Bell has agreed to not hold judicial office ever again after an investigation was opened against her by the Indiana Supreme Court following her arrest for allegedly hitting her ex-husband in front of her children.

A probable cause affidavit alleges Bell hit Douglas A. Goerss, her ex-husband who is a practicing lawyer in the Perry County Prosecutor’s Office, during a dispute at her home when Goerss was there to pick up their three children for a scheduled visit.

Bell, who announced on Facebook on April 20 that she was suspending her reelection campaign, was charged May 12 and suspended by the Supreme Court the same day. In July, her suspension was terminated after she agreed to step down and not run for office again.

Floyd County Prosecutor Chris Lane is the assigned special prosecutor for the domestic violence case, State of Indiana v. Sabrina R. Bell, 13C01-2205-F6-000039. Attorney Amie Sue Newlon of Corydon is representing Bell.

A diversion agreement was filed in that case on July 28. A pretrial conference was held on Aug. 1, according to court records.

Bell was no stranger to controversy during her time on the bench.

In 2019, she made headlines after she and two other southern Indiana judges were involved in an early-morning altercation at an Indianapolis White Castle restaurant that led to two of the judges being shot.  She was suspended for 30 days without pay following the incident.

Senior Judge Harris L. Whitis was most recently serving as judge pro tempore in the Crawford Circuit Court.

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