By Terry Wallace
DALLAS — The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted its suspension of a South Texas judge shown in a video beating his teenage daughter.
Justices had suspended Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams with pay in November 2011 while the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated the 2004 incident. The commission issued a public warning to Adams on Sept. 6.
In its one-page order Tuesday, the justices approved an agreement between Adams and the commission asking that the suspension be lifted. As part of the agreement, Adams had waived his right to appeal the public warning, which is essentially a public reprimand with no other consequences.
The action allows Adams to return to his judicial duties in the Gulf Coast town of Rockport, Texas, immediately.
Adams' older daughter, Hillary Adams, uploaded the 2004 video to YouTube just over a year ago. The video shows William Adams repeatedly whipping his then-16-year-old daughter with a belt for illegally downloading music.
The nearly eight-minute video viewed millions of times shows the judge lashing Hillary in the legs more than a dozen times and growing increasingly irate while she screams and refuses to turn over on a bed to be beaten.
"Lay down or I'll spank you in your (expletive) face," Adams screams as Hillary wails and pleads for him to stop.
Adams' former wife and Hillary's mother, Hallie Adams, expressed disappointment in the decisions of the state commission and Supreme Court.
"Hillary and I are both really sad today," she said. "I had really hoped the judicial review process would work. I had really wanted to see the public protected."
Messages were left with the commission, William Adams' attorney and Hillary Adams. In an email, a State Bar of Texas spokesman declined to comment.
The Aransas County district attorney said at the time the online video created a national sensation that too much time had passed to bring criminal charges against the judge.
Adams doesn't come up for re-election until 2014. However, county commissioners voted earlier this year to cut his 2013 salary by 1.6 percent to $144,000. Other elected county officials received a 2 percent cost-of-living increase.
Also, Adams may no longer preside over the physical domestic abuse cases that previously comprised much of his court docket. At the time the investigation began, Commissioner Howard Baldwin of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had told County Attorney Richard Bianchi that the department did not believe Adams could serve in the best interest of children and parents in abuse or neglect cases. Bianchi told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on Tuesday that the agency has modified its request to apply only to cases involving violence with children, which will be filed in state district court.
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