Judge involved in 2019 downtown shooting agrees to never hold judicial office again

Keywords Courts / Judges / Law / Legal Issues
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Embattled Crawford Circuit Court Judge Sabrina R. Bell, who was previously disciplined for her role in a 2019 brawl-turned-shooting in downtown Indianapolis, has resigned from her post and agreed to never hold judicial office again following her arrest for allegedly hitting her ex-husband in front of their children.

The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications on Monday closed its investigation into allegations of misconduct by Bell, terminating her prior suspension after the parties signed off on a July 15 stipulation and agreement for the resolution of the investigation. Bell has also voluntarily forfeited her law license for 150 days.

“In addition to submitting her resignation as Judge of the Crawford Circuit Court, Sabrina Bell affirms that she will neither seek office nor accept judicial office at any time in her lifetime in Indiana state courts and will not perform judicial duties in the future, including as a judge pro tempore, private judge, or temporary judge in Indiana,” court documents state.

The commission opened an investigation into Bell’s conduct on April 14 after she was arrested two days earlier for Level 6 felony domestic battery in the presence of a child. A probable cause affidavit alleges Bell hit Douglas A. Goerss, her ex-husband, during a dispute at her home when Goerss went to pick up their three children for a scheduled visit.

Goerss, of Tell City, is a practicing lawyer in the Perry County Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys.

On April 20, Bell—who was first elected in November 2016—posted on Facebook that she wasn’t seeking reelection and was “stepping down” from the bench. She was subsequently charged on May 12 and was was suspended with pay the same day.

Chris Lane of the Floyd County Prosecutor’s Office is the assigned special prosecutor for the domestic violence case. Attorney Amie Sue Newlon of Corydon is representing Bell.

A different brush with law enforcement put Bell under a microscope in May 2019, when she was one of three southern Indiana judges involved in an early-morning altercation at a White Castle restaurant in downtown Indianapolis that led to two of the judicial officers being shot.

As a result of the incident, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended Bell and Clark Circuit Court 2 Judge Bradley Jacobs for 30 days without pay for their roles in the shooting.

Former Clark Circuit Court 1 Judge Andrew Adams, who was also involved, was suspended for 60 days without pay and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery. He was sentenced to one year, all suspended to probation.

Judge Harris L. Whitis is currently serving as judge pro tempore of the Crawford Circuit Court.

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