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Suspension Over for Texas Judge Who Beat Daughter on Viral Video

In November 2011, the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct (TCJC) temporarily suspended Aransas County judge William Adams after a 2006 video of him viciously beating his then-16-year-old daughter, Hillary Adams, went viral. The Supreme Court of Texas reinstated Adams on November 9, 2012.

The brief, one-page order reinstating Adams contained two conditions. Adams will no longer be allowed to presided over domestic abuse cases. They had previously been the majority of his docket. Adams is also not allowed to appeal a public warning issued by the TCJC in September 2012. That warning stated that abusive behavior would not be tolerated.

No criminal charges were brought against Adams because the beating was so old that the statute of limitations barred prosecution. Adams, who is up for re-election in 2014, never admitted wrongdoing, saying he was only disciplining his child.

Adams is not the only judge to abuse his office or engage in criminal or other intolerable behavior. In Tennessee, former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was convicted of federal charges lying to cover up a conspiracy for one of the defendants in his court to provide him sex and prescription painkillers. Baumgartner has already pleaded guilty to state charges of misconduct and resigned from the bench in 2011, but received no jail time for those crimes.

In Illinois, Cook County Circuit Judge Cynthia Brim was re-elected mere hours before she was scheduled to appear in court for a status hearing in a criminal case in which she is accused of assaulting a deputy sheriff. Brim allegedly pushed a deputy sheriff and threw keys near a courthouse security checkpoint. Her defense to the assault charges is that she is bipolar and was "legally insane" at the time of the attack. She was suspended after her arrest, but will retain her $182,000-a-year job pending the outcome of a judiciary board investigation.

Meanwhile, a judge in Detroit, Michigan was reprimanded by the Michigan Supreme Court for bringing shame on the judiciary. Wayne County Judge Wade McCree sent a shirtless photo of himself to the cellphone of a female sheriff's officer. her husband found the photo and turned it over to a local television reporter. The photo shows a buff McCree after he finished a half marathon. The officer said she kept the photo for motivation to improve her workouts. McCree is proud of the photo and said there is "No shame in my game." The court voted 6-0 to accept a Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission recommendation to close the case with a censure.

In most cases even outlandish behavior by judges is only mildly punished. And even that punishment may be shrouded in secrecy. For instance, the TCJC recently refused to open its records to the Sunset Advisory Commission which is required by law to evaluate the efficiency of state agencies. The commission claimed that "it's meetings are closed to everyone, including the Sunset Commission and its staff." It also refused the commission access to memoranda about its rulings. For all of this, the commission is claiming attorney-client privilege.

TCJC is a state regulatory agency charged with evaluating complaints against judges and doling out discipline when appropriate. Its staff of attorneys review the complaints and make recommendations on them to the commission. That is the basis of the claim of privilege. The Sunset staff doesn't understand the problem as it routinely handles sensitive government information without breaking confidentiality.

Sources:,, Associated Press,,

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