Legal Ethics

Family Court Judge Who Hit Teen Daughter with Belt in Viral YouTube Video Might Go Back on Bench

A Texas family court judge who made international headlines last year and was suspended, with pay, after his now-adult daughter posted on YouTube a video she secretly took of her father whipping her with a belt in 2004, when she was a teenager, could be headed back to the bench.

Aransas County Court-at Law Judge William Adams on Wednesday agreed not to appeal a public warning (PDF) by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, as part of an agreed motion to remove the state supreme court suspension that could be a first step toward his return to the bench, according to the the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the San Antonio Express-News.

In the public warning, the commission says that “because Judge Adams regularly presides over and decides child custody, child abuse, and family violence cases, his private conduct did cast public discredit upon the judiciary and the administration of justice.” It also criticizes him for violating the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct by his “treatment of certain attorneys in his courtroom, particularly the now-former Aransas County Attorney, Jim Anderson,” which, the commission writes, “fell far below the minimum standards of patient, courteous and dignified courtroom demeanor expected of judicial officials.”

Attorney witnesses who spoke with the commission all said Adams was fair, impartial and knowledgeable about the law, although some said he could be angry and show “poor judicial demeanor” toward lawyers. His return to the bench likely will prompt recusal requests by some lawyers and organizatons, however, the articles note.

The judge has not made any public comment about the sanction and could not be reached Tuesday by the Caller-Times.

Additional coverage: “Judge in Viral YouTube Teen Beating Video Takes Paid Leave; Court Ups Security, Cancels Jury Duty” “Texas Judge Won’t Be Charged re Viral Beating Video, Says Daughter Posted It Out of Spite” “Ethics Panel Issues ‘Public Warning’ to Judge Shown Beating Daughter on Viral Video”

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