When U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Alabama tendered his resignation on Friday, his fellow judges apparently were preparing to send his case to a national judicial body for consideration of possible impeachment by Congress.
On Monday the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued an order saying the conduct of Fuller, who was arrested on domestic abuse allegations in Atlanta last summer, "might constitute one or more grounds for impeachment." The order referred the matter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, which has the ability to send a judicial discipline matter to the House of Representatives for impeachment.
Friday's letter from Fuller to President Barack Obama, saying the judge would resign effective Aug. 1, would appear to moot the question of impeachment as a practical matter. But Monday's order signifies that judicial leaders within the Eleventh Circuit were willing to hand down the most significant disciplinary consequence within their arsenal.
The Judicial Council consists of all of the Eleventh Circuit's active members, minus its most junior member and Chief Judge Ed Carnes, who hasn't been participating in the Fuller matter, as well as the nine chief judges of the district courts within the Eleventh Circuit. The opinion noted that the chief judge of the Middle District of Alabama, where Fuller sits, did not participate either. Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the Eleventh Circuit acted as chief judge on the matter in Carnes' stead, and Tjoflat's signature appears on Monday's order.
An August police report said Fuller's then-wife accused him of assaulting her at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown Atlanta. He later agreed to a domestic violence intervention program and alcohol and substance abuse assessment to resolve the resulting misdemeanor battery case against him. Fuller's Atlanta criminal defense lawyer has said that Fuller made no admission of guilt and that, upon completion of the program, the case against him would be dismissed and his arrest record expunged.
Why would the 11th tip Fuller off so he could resign on Friday?
Here's the one page order: