Texas Judge Shown on Video Beating His Daughter Gets Only a Minor Reprimand

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Sep 7, 2012

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The Texas judge shown savagely beating his disabled daughter with a belt on video has received only a minor public warning from the Texas ethics panel investigating his behavior, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.  Although many hoped Judge Adams would be more severely punished, the Commission gave Adams what seems to be a relatively mild consequence for the beating, which was secretly recorded by his daughter Hillary and posted on YouTube 7 years later. 

The “public warning” Judge Adams received is a step below a reprimand, and two steps below advising that the judge be removed from office.  The county attorney in Aransas County, Richard Bianchi, called the warning nothing more than a “public reprimand” which carried no material consequences.      

Judge Adams has been suspended from duty with pay since November 22, 2011 by the Texas Supreme Court.  The minor warning by the Commission is a step forward if Adams wishes to return to the bench, according to Bianchi.  To return to work, Adams must move to lift the suspension either himself or jointly with the panel in a motion to the court.  Charges were never filed against Adams because the statute of limitations had expired prior to the video surfacing.   

The warning ultimately issued by the Commission clashes with the Commission’s own report on the matter, which describes interviews by lawyers who regularly practice before Adams suggesting Adams shouldn’t return to the bench. 

According to the report, out of twelve attorneys who were interviewed, “six attorneys believed that Judge Adams could no longer be effective in court because the conduct portrayed in the videotape created the public perception that the judge could not be fair and impartial in cases involving allegations of family violence, child abuse, or assault.”  They also stated that motions to recuse Judge Adams would likely be filed by criminal defense attorneys on behalf of their clients if Judge Adams were to return to the bench. 

Although despite public outcry over the video Adams seems to have escaped relatively unscathed, Adams’ troubles aren’t over.  A public campaign against his re-election is going strong, including a Facebook page with thousands of likes titled “Don’t Re-Elect Judge William Adams”.  Adams is up for re-election in 2014. 

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