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.
Judge William Adams
This undated image provided by the Aransas County, Texas Court-at-Law webpage shows Aransas County Judge William Adams. The Court-at-Law Judge told Corpus Christi television station KZTV on Nov. 2, 2011, a YouTube video that shows him lashing his then-16-year-old daughter with a belt "looks worse than it is."
Hillary Adams, daughter of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, walks outside her mother's home in Portland, Texas on Nov. 2, 2011.
Hillary Adams, daughter of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, walks outside her mother's home in Portland, Texas, on Nov. 2, 2011.
Rebecca Peres protests with her daughter, Ripsi Peres, outside the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas on Nov. 7, 2011. Peres called for Judge William Adams to resign following the release of a video on You Tube showing him whipping his daughter.
Rebecca Peres, left, and James Williams protest outside the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas, on Nov. 7, 2011. They were calling for Judge William Adams to resign following the release of a video showing him lashing his teenage daughter with a belt in 2004.
Protester Ken Loosemore, left, talks with passerby Lee Havens as he joined a small group of protestors on Nov. 7, 2011, at the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas.
Hallie and Hillary Adams
Hallie Adams, left, and her daughter, Hillary Adams, arrive at the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas, on Nov. 21, 2011. Hallie Adams ex-husband, Judge William Adams, was fighting for visitation with his 10-year-old daughter after a temporary restraining order was issued following the posting of a 2004 video on YouTube showing Adams beating his older daughter, Hillary Adams.
Matthew Downen and Jim Weston
Aransas County Sheriff's deputies Matthew Downen, left, and Jim Weston stand guard outside the courtroom at the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas, on Nov. 21, 2011. Judge William Adams was fighting for visitation with his 10-year-old daughter.
Hillary Adams declined to give reporters comment at the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas, on Nov. 21, 2011.
Judge William Adams returns at the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas, on Nov. 21, 2011.
In this Nov. 21, 2011 photo, Judge William Adams returns after a lunch recess at the Aransas County Courthouse in Rockport, Texas. After being suspended from the bench when a years-old video surfaced last year showing Adams beating his teenage daughter, he was slapped with a public warning from a state ethics panel.
In this March 17, 2005 photo, Hillary Adams, the daughter of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, practices the piano at her home in Rockport, Texas.