Federal District Judge Mark E. Fuller was controversial even before he was arrested on allegations of beating his wife last year.Hope everyone enjoyed Pi day this weekend. Get ready for March Madness this week. (And yes, the Canes were robbed.)
The Alabama judge was criticized for sitting on cases brought by the government even as his aviation company was getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded business. Appointed by a Republican, he was denounced for putting a former Democratic governor in manacles after a corruption conviction.
He was the talk of the courthouse for having an extramarital affair with his courtroom assistant, and for his messy public divorce.
Fuller, 56, is now battling bipartisan calls to resign over a fight he had seven months ago with the same former courtroom assistant, whom he'd married. The argument started after she accused Fuller of cheating on her with his law clerk.
Adding to Fuller's problems was that a few weeks after he was arrested, video was released of NFL star running back Ray Rice knocking his fiancee unconscious, putting a national spotlight on spousal abuse. The Baltimore Ravens dropped Rice.
"If an NFL player can lose his job because of domestic violence, then a federal judge should definitely not be allowed to keep his lifetime appointment to the federal bench," said Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.).
Sewell and both of Alabama's Republican senators, along with other members of the state's congressional delegation, have called on Fuller to step down.
Fuller's judicial career now rests largely with a five-judge review panel that has investigated his behavior and is expected to release its findings this month. A House of Representatives committee is gearing up for possible impeachment hearings against Fuller, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Bush in 2002.
Retired Alabama federal Judge U.W. Clemon, who as chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham dealt with similar ethical issues, said that Fuller's constitutional appointment may not be enough to save his job.
When a judge's behavior results in him "being thrown in jail like a common criminal, that's not within the conduct that is condoned by the Constitution," Clemon said.
Kelli Fuller, the former court assistant who was divorced from Fuller after the incident, has not spoken in public about what happened at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Atlanta last August. But her version is amply represented in police files.
"He's beating on me! Please help me," Kelli Fuller pleaded to a police dispatcher, who called for an ambulance and could be heard telling a co-worker, "I can hear him hitting her now."
The policeman who entered the hotel room found her with "visible lacerations to her mouth and forehead" and said the room smelled of alcohol.
"Mrs. Fuller stated when she confronted him about their issues, he pulled her hair and threw her to the ground and kicked her," the police report said. "Mrs. Fuller also stated she was dragged around the room and Mr. Fuller hit her in the mouth several times with his hands."
Judge Fuller was taken to jail, where he spent the night on a charge of misdemeanor battery. But he avoided a criminal record by agreeing to a pretrial diversion program, including a drug and alcohol evaluation and 24 sessions of domestic violence counseling.
Nebraska federal court Judge Richard Kopf, who writes a blog about judicial issues, called it "a sweet deal."
Monday, March 16, 2015
What will happen to Judge Fuller?
We may find out this week. From the LA Times: