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Legal Ethics

Ethics Panel Issues ‘Public Warning’ to Judge Shown Beating Daughter on Viral Video

Posted Sep 7, 2012 7:08 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A South Texas judge has received a “public warning” as a result of a YouTube video showing him beating his then-teen daughter in 2004.

The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct acted 10 months after the tape surfaced showing Judge William Adams of Aransas County beating his daughter with a belt, report the Houston Chronicle and the Associated Press. The public warning (PDF) he received is a step below a reprimand, the Chronicle says.

Adams has said his daughter posted the video out of spite because he was going to reduce her financial support and take away her Mercedes. The beating, he has said, was punishment for using music file-sharing software. He was suspended with pay in November.

The commission said Adams had regularly decided child custody, child abuse and family violence cases, and the video “cast public discredit upon the judiciary and the administration of justice.”

The warning also said Adams’ treatment of lawyers in his courtroom “fell far below the minimum standards of patient, courteous and dignified courtroom demeanor expected of judicial officials." However, the commission said 15 lawyers interviewed about Adams’ courtroom conduct said he was fair and impartial, and knowledgeable about the law.

Adams can appeal the warning, and can also ask the Texas Supreme Court to allow him to return to the bench.

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