Alabama Newspapers Urge Disgraced Judge Fuller To Resign

 

Alabama’s leading news organization has called for a scandal-plagued federal judge to resign after his arrest in Atlanta.

Al.com, a consortium of three newspapers that boasts of the largest readership in the state, published an editorial Aug. 22 saying U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, 55, should resign his lifetime appointment following his arrest on a battery charge against his wife, Kelli Gregg Fuller. She told police she had accused her husband of an affair with a court staffer under his supervision at the courthouse in Alabama's state capital of Montgomery.

"It's all too tawdry," Al.com's editorial stated. "Fuller's actions show his ability to make good decisions is impaired."

The wealthy judge, released on a $5,000 bond for a Fulton County court appearance Sept. 5, has gone into rehabilitation treatment and has hired top lawyers – including Jeffrey Brickman, a former prosecutor in Atlanta. Treatment sometimes persuades judges to vacate charges. "This incident has been very embarrassing to me, my family, friends and the court," Fuller's statement said. "I deeply regret this incident and look forward to working to resolve these difficulties with my family, where they should be resolved." Fuller said in his statement he hoped to "address the concerns of the Court" and hopefully return to "full, active" status.

Update 1: On Aug. 26, the Montgomery Advertiser became the fourth newspaper in Alabama's four largest cities to call for Fuller's resignation: U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller should resign. Also, an attorney for Fuller counter-attacked Alabama attorney Donald Watkins for calling for the judge's resignation, saying the lawyer was biased. Details: Bimingham attorney Donald Watkins tells U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice that federal judge Mark Fuller should be removed from bench.

Mark Fuller Mug ShotUpdate 2: On Sept. 5, Fuller agreed to a pretrial diversion program in which the charge would be expunged. "I reached this difficult decision after consulting with my family, and deciding that it was in everyone's best interests to put this incident behind us," Fuller said in a statement. "While I regret that my decision means that the full and complete facts regarding this incident will likely not come out, I have no doubt that it is what is best for all involved."

Update 3: On Sept. 14, the Dothan Eagle raised the ante by calling for Fuller's impeachment. In the days ahead, both CNN and Fox News broadcast negative commentaries on Fuller. However, he appeared reasonably well-positioned to avoid the criticism, partly because it focused heavily on what the judge called "the incident" of the battery charge and ignored for the most part other explosive aspects of his conduct.

Update 4: Washington Post, Judging a judge, Editorial Board, Sept. 22, 2014. Is domestic violence an impeachable offense? Absolutely.

Meanwhile, the federal appeals court overseeing judges in a three-state region has transferred all of Fuller's cases to other judges and launched a disciplinary investigation of the once powerful judge who from 2004 to 2011 presided as chief judge in Alabama's federal middle district.

A report Aug. 26 said all of Fuller's top colleagues were summoned to Atlanta for three days of discussions about his fate. The acting chief of the federal appeals court failed to respond to our request for verification or comment. Later reports based on sources claimed that the judges asked Fuller to resign but that he refused to do so.

Women’s rights and other civil rights advocates at one point hoped to generate a mass protest against Fuller. His first wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller, accused him in 2012 divorce papers of wife-beating and adultery with a clerk, plus drug and alcohol abuse.

Fuller, shown in his jail mug shot, completed his divorce protected by a special order from a Montgomery circuit judge, Anita Kelley. She sealed Fuller's records despite his wife's objections, a protest by our Justice Integrity Project along with two other news organizations -- and a state law requiring open court records, including in divorce cases. Our project and others were unsuccessful also in obtaining comment from Fuller or his attorneys.

Donald Watkins via FacebookFuller faces unusually harsh new criticism from the prominent local attorney, banker and entrepreneur Donald V. Watkins in addition to the attacks on the judge by his former allies in the media and supervisors at the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Watkins, shown at right in a Facebook portrait, is a longtime Birmingham lawyer and banker. He has repeatedly denounced Fuller on Facebook and called for "thousands" of protesters to march against defendant Sept. 5 at the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta. 

"Fuller has earned a reputation as a hardcore 'law and order' judge for the harsh sentences he imposes in criminal cases," Watkins said for a story published by the Montgomery Advertiser under the headline, Watkins Calls For Maximum Sentence For Fuller. "If Fuller is found guilty, we request that the Court sentence him to the maximum one-year jail time allowed under Georgia law for a misdemeanor. As I mentioned earlier, Judge Fuller believes in handing down maximum criminal sentences. I am sure he would want nothing less in his own case."

Watkins has blistered Fuller and his allies since the arrest on many grounds, including domestic violence and hypocrisy. "Defendant Fuller is used to receiving special treatment in Alabama," Watkins wrote in his open letter excerpted by the Advertiser. "He is part of the oligarchy of white men who run the State of Alabama. Fuller has absolutely no respect for women (or people of color)."

Watkins unveiled via Facebook on Aug. 24 an explosive new line of attack against Fuller. In a column entitled, Judicial Hypocrisy In Action: A Tale of Two Federal Judges, Watkins revealed the inside story of how Alabama's federal judges in 2002 used rumors of womanizing to force the resignation of a Democratic-appointed federal judge, H. Dean Buttram, Jr., after just four years into his lifetime appointment.

Watkins compared Buttram favorably with Fuller in this way:

John Roberts"Buttram’s alleged womanizing never spilled over to the public arena," Watkins wrote. "He was never arrested for battering his wife or any other woman. Whatever conduct compelled the judges to ask for Buttram’s resignation never rose to the level of a public spectacle. Buttram came to the bench as a scholar and gentleman, and he left as one."

Watkins followed up Aug. 25 by writing a letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts outlining the scandals in a five-page letter and urging intervention by Roberts.

Roberts is shown at left and is a Republican, like nearly all recent chief justices for more than a century. The sole exception of a Democratic U.S. Supreme Court chief justice has been a seven-year term for the Truman-nominated Fred Vinson, beginning in 1946.

Roberts leads not simply the Supreme Court but the the federal court system's administrative council that has historically ignored complaints about Fuller. These complaints include a lengthy filing in 2003 by an experienced Missouri litigator calling for Fuller's impeachment on corruption grounds. The filing was made to Fuller's court but, for mysterious reasons court officials have never described, never appeared in the electronic docket supposedly available to the public.

What may shape up as most important, however, is not so much new information added to years of long-simmering scandal regarding Fuller -- but a strong, outspoken local messenger in Watkins, along with a public that has witnessed continuing scandals in Washington and across the nation. At the same time, Fuller's protective shield of political allies in Alabama is showing big signs of erosion.

Fuller's conduct has prompted many critics. Until now, however, few aside from litigants have had the gumption, resources and all-important local ties to Alabama to attack the judge publicly over a sustained period. One of the reasons? Alabama lawyers face both formal and informal reprisals for criticizing a judge.

We at the Justice Integrity Project have reported Fuller's corruption for more than five years, including a front-page story on Huffington Post in 2009, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company. The story documented many Fuller scandals, including in finances, and attempt to cheat the state's pension fund out of $330,000 to appease a reputed blackmailer -- and Fuller's oversight of one of the most controversial federal prosecutions in recent history.

Buttram and Fuller's two attorneys failed to respond to our requests this week for comment. We shall add any comment that is received to the following account, which is slightly updated and corrected from a version that appeared Aug. 24.

The Siegelman-Scrushy Prosecution Recapped

Some oft-told history is necessary here:

Fuller was a member of Alabama's Republican Party Executive Committee in the 1990s before his elevation from a state prosecutor's job to the federal bench in 2002. As a judge, he made many controversial pro-prosecution rulings that helped ensure the convictions on corruption charges of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

Siegelman, Alabama's top Democrat, had reappointed Scrushy to a state board in 1999. The wealthy Scrushy had donated to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation that Siegelman had co-founded to advocate for a state lottery to fund public schools.

Mark Fuller Phil FlemingMany legal scholars and former top state prosecutors from around the nation have argued that Siegelman's reappointment of Scrushy was typical politics, not a crime. But Alabama's legal and media establishment protected the judge for the most part by ignoring or soft-peddling allegations of bias, conflict of interest or misconduct.

Even the national network CBS failed in a 2008 "60 Minutes" investigation to mention the serious, sworn financial allegations against Fuller in an otherwise hard-hitting 2008 report, Did Siegelman Get a Raw Deal?

The rarely photographed judge is shown at left in chambers in a portrait by freelancer Phil Fleming, used here with permission. The photo was minutes after the Siegelman-Scrushy jury verdict in June 2006. The convictions followed a nearly hung jury in what was a second trial for each defendant.

The Justice Integrity Project broke the story that Fleming recalled from that photo shoot how Fuller had summoned him and a sketch artist into chambers to record the occasion. Fleming advised the judge to cut out "the Cheshire Cat" look because such happiness made the judge look too undignified for the occasion.

Fuller sentenced to the defendants to seven-year terms later slightly reduced on appeal. Siegelman, freed during part of his appeal, is serving the rest of his 6.5-year term. He has a last pending appeal before the appellate court in October. Part of it challenges Fuller's decision to lengthen the sentence by including charges for which the jury acquitted defendants of guilt. Scrushy finished his term.

The acting chief judge of the 11th Circuit U.S. Appeals Court is Gerald Bard Tjoflat of Jacksonville, FL, a Republican born in 1929. GOP President Nixon named him to the federal district court in 1970, and President Ford advanced him to the appellate court in 1975. In the Siegelman-Scrushy case, the appellate court has relied primarily on all-Republican panels and has endorsed Fuller's rulings for the most part.

Tjoflat last week responded to Fuller's arrest by issuing an order reassigning all of his cases.

The wife-beating and sex scandal allegations against Fuller are creating hostile feelings towards the judge that transcend the usual partisan loyalties that have helped protect judge in other disputes in a heavily Republican state. The public can understand that wife-beating and sex scandal should be off-limits, a prominent one law professor told me, whereas financial transactions and similar disputes are too complicated for the average person.

Such factors doubtless energized AL.com, which is powered mainly by the Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, and Mobile’s Press-Register. With content also from other statewide media, Al.com claims over 5.7 million unique monthly visitors and 92 million monthly page views plus ranking in the Top 10 nationwide out of more than 200 newspaper websites across 99 markets.

Several unrelated developments have combined to make the current situation especially difficult for the judge.

One is the strong religious and otherwise moral reputation that is typically required for public officials in the Deep South more than in most locales, albeit undermined on occasion by several well-publicized scandals putting the public on the alert for new miscreants.

Also, allegations of an affair with a clerk raise a particularly sensitive dimension if true because of a judge's power over court personnel. Fuller's current wife, Kelli Fuller, was herself a clerk for Fuller before his divorce in 2012.

Similar suspicions have long hounded Fuller. They primarily arose on a confidential basis among courtroom insiders ever since his days as chief prosecutor for the state circuit court in the region surrounding his hometown of Enterprise. Along with that full-time job, he curiously held the post of CEO for Doss Aviation, Inc., a federal contractor based in Colorado.

That was before President George W. Bush nominated Fuller in mid-2002 for the federal bench. The Senate promptly approved Fuller. Siegelman in late 2002 appointed former State Circuit Judge Gary McAliley of Enterprise to succeed Fuller, an unusual career progression from judge to prosecutor.

Little known to the public, however, Siegelman had encouraged McAliley to look into claims of serious misconduct in Fuller's office, which several Alabama newspapers had reported. McAliley never filed charges. But the entire pension fund controversy arose much more publicly in mid-2003.

Dr. Paul Brammer, head of the state pension fund Retirement Systems of Alabama, wrote two hard-hitting editorials in 2003 in the state's newsletter for retirees accusing Fuller of a year-long effort to try loot the fund by seeking an unmerited $330,000 for a Fuller staffer in the prosecutor's office.

Then Paul b. Weeks, an experienced litigator with a federal case before Fuller, feared that his client would be harmed by a corrupt judge. So he investigated Fuller and filed a recusal motion in Fuller's court alleging corruption. The paperwork and evidence, including Brammer's editorials, were entered into the federal court system's docket but not made visible for public view in the PACER database that is supposed to contain such information.

For such reasons, any thorough investigation of Fuller's conduct should require statements from Fuller, his court clerks, Brammer, the prosecution office investigator, and McAliley. This is especially so since the alleged irregularities by Fuller reputedly stemmed from his effort to suppress a threat of disclosure of his misconduct.   

The Senate unanimously confirmed Fuller in a voice vote in November 2002 following a friendly hearing led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont. Alabama's two Senators -- the Judiciary Committee's top ranking GOP member Jeff Sessions and fellow Republican Dick Shelby -- vigorously championed Fuller. Sessions, by coincidence, has co-authored a law review article arguing that no stature of limitations exists for impeachable offenses by federal officials.

Now, however, Fuller may be a ripe target. Former Republican political researcher Dana Jill Simpson, a Rainesville attorney, has been highly outspoken in interviews with me and a long Facebook posting about how Fuller's pattern of violence offends both the right and left in Alabama. 

Fuller's arrest out-of-state in Atlanta helped prompt major newspaper coverage that went national via wire services and legal publications, creating a boomerang hard for Alabama media to miss.

And then there's the factor of a Watkins weighing in. In 2000, he co-founded Alamerica Bank in Birmingham, where he continues as its chairman while maintaining a law practice there and pursuing civic and business interests elsewhere, including Atlanta. Politically active as a Democrat in Birmingham, Alabama's biggest city, Watkins is also a former trustee of Alabama State University in Montgomery. Such ties help make newsworthy his current crusade against Fuller.

Among his recent arguments is a challenge to feminists to focus on Fuller. Watkins and others have noted a recent national campaign to have African-American sports commentator Stephen A. Smith fired for an insensitive remarks. Dr. Harold Michael Harvey explored that theme more thoroughly in a column, Why aren't feminists calling for the head of white judge who beat his wife? s Harvey and Watkins compared Fuller and Smith, who did not hit anyone.    

Watkins is urging and predicting thousands of protesters Sept. 5 at the Fulton County courthouse when Fuller is making his next appearance.

Fuller is not without defenses. Clearly, he knows how courtrooms work, and has retained the services of Birmingham lawyer Barry Ragland, a prominent Democrat, to work with Jeffrey Brickman on the defense.

Montgomery Independent editor Bob Martin has reported that Fuller made $18 million from the sales of his closely held Doss Aviation Inc. in late 2012 to hedge fund magnate John F. Lehman, a former U.S. Secretary of the Navy and member of the 9/11 Commission. So the judge has funds as well as continuation of his $199,000 annual salary to protect himself, unlike many defendants who lose job, savings and sometimes friends after indictment.

Also working Fuller's favor is that judges, whether his supervisors on the 11th circuit or the only overseeing his battery case, are not supposed to be influenced by street protests.

In sum, Fuller is reasonably well-equipped for courtroom arguments.

In fact, Tjoflat of the 11th Circuit has seemed to suggest that it will absolve Fuller, as Watkins noted in his Aug. 24 column:

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which filed an administrative complaint against Fuller last Monday and has given him 21 days to answer, is already suggesting that Fuller might be going back to work soon.

In a flagrant display of hypocrisy, Acting Chief Judge Gerald Tjoflat told a news reporter, “Obviously, Judge Fuller recognizes that he needs to deal with these serious issues quickly so when he returns there is as little disruption to his cases as possible.”

Fuller's problem, however, may not be with the powers that be. It's that he has triggered passions and civic concerns that may keep the issues in the mainstream public consciousness.

Watkins, for example, aspires to a rare cross-gender, cross-racial, cross-party mass movement focused on a theme of justice for judges -- with Mark Fuller's fate as Exhibit A.    

"We know from Facebook that thousands of women are feverishly working as advocates for Kelli Fuller, the most recent victim of Fuller's violence against women," Watkins wrote. "Like me, they believe that Mark Fuller presents a clear and present danger to himself and to other women."

In his column Aug. 24, Watkins wrote:

This is judicial hypocrisy in action. Buttram had to leave the bench, but Fuller can stay. When the accused judge is a Democratic appointee, he must resign. When he is a Republican appointee, he can come back to the bench after he “deals with these serious issues.”

We need one standard of personal and professional integrity for federal judges, and it must apply across-the-board. The judges who are pushing a double standard for the benefit of Fuller ought to be ashamed of themselves. They need to resign too. Please join me in saying goodbye to criminal defendant Mark Fuller and his sympathizers....Truthful and clean-living judges who have respect for women are in. No exceptions will be tolerated.


 

 
 
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Justice Integrity Project Coverage

Justice Integrity Project, Courts Strip Disgraced Judge Of Cases, Forbid Contact With Wife, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 17, 2014. A federal appeals court in Atlanta took the rare step last week of reassigning all cases from a prominent judge who had been arrested on a battery charge against his wife. Separately, a Fulton County court forbade U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller, 55, from contact with his wife Kelli Gregg Fuller, 41, a former deputy court clerk for Fuller who phoned police late Aug. 9 from a luxury hotel to say her husband was beating her after she accused him of having an affair with a law clerk.

Justice Integrity Project, Siegelman's Judge Charged With Wife-Beating, Affair With Clerk, Aug. 11, 2014. Atlanta police this weekend alleged wife-beating by the Alabama judge who helped railroad into prison former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.  Police charged U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller with battery early Aug. 10 following an altercation late Saturday night at the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Police did not identify the victim aside from saying it was Fuller's wife. Police reported that she was injured but declined hospital treatment.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income.

Related News Coverage

US House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte & Conyers Request Update on Judge Fuller Investigation, Staff letter, Dec. 1, 2014. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) today sent a letter to Chief Judge Ed Carnes and Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit regarding the arrest and the ongoing prosecution of Middle District of Alabama Judge Mark Fuller in Atlanta, Georgia for a violation of state criminal law. Following the laws prescribed by Congress for allegations of judicial misconduct, the Acting Chief Judge appointed a Special Committee of five judges to investigate Judge Fuller’s actions in connection with the filing of criminal charges in August 2014. In the letter, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers request to be provided with an update on the status of the ongoing investigation and the anticipated timeline for completion of the required comprehensive written report to the circuit’s judicial council. In recognition of the explicit statutory requirement that a Special Committee, once appointed, “expeditiously file a comprehensive written report” after the completion of its “investigation,” we write to request that you provide us with an update on the status of the ongoing investigation and the anticipated timeline for completion of the required comprehensive written report to the circuit’s judicial council.

Montgomery Advertiser, Fuller's lawyer blowing smoke, Oct. 10, 2014. The lawyer for U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller would have Alabamians believe that the domestic violence case against his client is not such a big deal, that its all been overblown, that it got caught up in the current of negativity surrounding the Ray Rice case in the NFL. What rubbish. Attorney Barry Ragsdale also contends that, as a federal judge, Fuller is not pressured by politics and that calls for his resignation by most of the state's best-known political figures don't matter. More rubbish. These tone-deaf claims change nothing in Fuller's case and serve only to further offend Alabamians, who long ago recognized that his fitness for the bench has been irreparably compromised.'Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), shown in a file photo, urged in 2002 the Senate confirmation of President Bush's nominee Mark E. Fuller for the U.S. District Court bench in Alabama.

Jeff SessionsReuters via Huffington Post, Senators Call For Federal Judge To Resign Over Wife Beating, Reuters, Sept. 17, 2014. Three U.S. senators on Wednesday called for the resignation of a federal judge accused of beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room last month. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both Republicans of Alabama, joined Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, in calling for the resignation of Alabama-based U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller. "Judge Fuller's unacceptable personal conduct violates the trust that has been placed in him. He can no longer effectively serve in his position and should step down," Sessions said in a statement. The calls for Fuller's resignation come amid a furor over the National Football League's treatment of players accused or convicted of domestic violence, which critics say has been too lenient. Alabama U.S. Representative Terri Sewell, Democrat of Alabama, called for Fuller's resignation last week.

Dick ShelbySenator Dick Shelby (R-AL), shown in a file photo, also urged in 2002 the Senate confirmation of President Bush's nominee Mark E. Fuller for the bench.

Washington Post, Judging a judge, Editorial Board, Sept. 22, 2014. Is domestic violence an impeachable offense? Absolutely. The Constitution says that federal judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour” — for life, that is, unless they commit an impeachable offense. Which brings us to the allegations of domestic violence against Mark E. Fuller, a U.S. District Court judge in Montgomery, Ala. As we read the history, impeachment for off-the-bench misconduct by a federal judge is rare; impeachment for domestic violence would be unprecedented. However, it belongs on the list of offenses potentially serious enough to warrant disqualification from “any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States”; certainly it fits no reasonable definition of “good Behaviour.” Presiding over a federal court, unlike football, is not a game. If the facts of Judge Fuller’s case warrant it, Congress should not hesitate to proceed against him.

Al.com, Removing Fuller would be long, arduous process, Mary Troyan, Oct. 5, 2014. Impeaching a federal judge is an arduous, time-consuming process that Congress has used sparingly, which may explain why no lawmaker has asked the U.S. House to impeach U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller. Most members of Alabama's congressional delegation called for Fuller's resignation almost three weeks ago, after he was charged with battery of his wife. Fuller, who works at the federal courthouse in Montgomery, has been suspended from the bench. His criminal case in Georgia is pending and his fellow judges are investigating whether further disciplinary action is warranted. But he has not voluntarily stepped down. "The request to resign is definitely pressure," said Charles Geyh, a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University and author of When Courts and Congress Collide. "The question is whether (Fuller) wants to try to weather that storm. Because impeachment is a hassle."

Al.com, Mark Fuller attorney mum on client's future as 4 more Congressmen call for judge's resignation, Leada Gore, Sept. 18, 2014. The attorney for an Alabama federal judge involved in a domestic violence case isn't saying if his client will resign, even as calls for him to step down increase. Attorney Barry Ragsdale declined comment to AL.com Thursday on the future of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who was arrested Aug. 9 on domestic violence charges involving his wife. Meanwhile, three more members of the Alabama Congressional delegation are calling for Fuller's resignation. Reps. Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Spencer Bachus and Bradley Byrne said Fuller should resign immediately. Their comments come as Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, as well as Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, said the 55-year-old judge should step down from the bench. Brooks said Fuller's actions cast an "irreparable, dark stain on the judicial reputation and image necessary...to be able to fairly and truly judge Alabama citizens.

Al.com, Gov. and Mrs. Bentley say Judge Mark Fuller should resign, Charles J. Dean, Sept. 18, 2014. Gov. and Mrs. Robert Bentley said this afternoon embattled federal Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery should resign from the beach in light of police charges he beat his wife. "I don't know what all the circumstances are, but what I know thus far, I would say yes," said Gov. Bentley when asked if Fuller should resign. "I would want to know all the facts. He may have some problems. And I think that he may." Bentley said men and women in positions of leadership have to set good examples. "He is a leader. He is a federal judge and he has to set an example," Bentley said of Fuller. "And when you don't set that example you probably should not serve in those positions."

The Young Turks, Federal Judge Asked To Resign After Beating His Wife,  Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola, Sept. 18, 2014. Three U.S. senators on Wednesday called for the resignation of a federal judge accused of beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room last month. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both Republicans of Alabama, joined Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, in calling for the resignation of Alabama-based U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller.

Dothan Eagle, Our view: Impeach Mark Fuller, Editorial board, Sept. 14, 2014. Over the last week, Americans have been inundated with opportunities to watch a video clip of a professional football player punching out his then-girlfriend – now wife – in an elevator, then dragging her limp body halfway out elevator car like a rag doll. The resulting outrage caused the NFL to ostracize former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice from the game. We say former player, because the Ravens released Rice. Never mind that he was just suspended for a couple of games after he reported the incident; in the backlash following the release of footage showing the brutality of a man striking his mate, Rice was seen as unfit for a sport built on brutality. The Rice incident makes us wonder: If there were video footage of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room, would he still get the kid-glove treatment he received in court last week?

AL.com, It's a matter of trust -- Mark Fuller should resign, Editorial Board, Sept. 8, 2014. We don't need public officials to be perfect human beings. And that brings us to U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller. Again. We have said before that Fuller should quit. He didn't. But every subsequent event since he was arrested for striking his wife in an alcohol-aided incident on Aug. 9 suggests he can't stay and retain respect. And so, once again, we ask him to step aside. He accepted an Atlanta Magistrate Court plea deal to multiple levels of mandatory counseling that will allow his arrest to be expunged from his record. That's the kind of judicial lenience normally offered to teens in hopes they can straighten out their lives with a second chance. For a 56-year-old judge who insists through his lawyer that he has no drinking or drug problems, it's a preposterous charade.

Al.com, Personal failings should lead federal judge to resign: opinion, Editorial Board, Aug. 21, 2014. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller should resign. There are some occupations where second and third chances are appropriate, even necessary. But others have less margin for error. We believe the men and women who sit in judgment of those accused of wrongdoing are in that second category. Judges must apply the law to those who have done harm and do it without fear or favor. It's all too much.

Montgomery Advertiser, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller should resign, Editorial board, Aug. 26, 2014. A federal judgeship exemplifies the concept of an office of public trust, perhaps more than any other. Federal judges wield great authority and exercise great influence in the judicial system — and they do so with the Constitution's provision of a lifetime appointment. Therein lies the case against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Alabama's Middle District – and the basis for our call for him to resign. The Constitution states that federal judges "shall hold their offices during good behavior...." Therein lies the case against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Alabama's Middle District – and the basis for our call for him to resign.

Al.com, Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins tells U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice that federal judge Mark Fuller should be removed from bench, Kent Faulk, Aug. 26, 2014. Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins has been on a campaign in the past few weeks to see federal judge Mark Fuller removed from the bench in the wake of the judge's arrest on a domestic violence charge in Georgia earlier this month. On Monday, Watkins stepped up his efforts in a letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Fuller's attorney, Barry Ragsdale, responded to Watkins' letter. "Although it is unfortunate that some, particularly Mr. Watkins, have chosen to politicize this incident for their own self-aggrandizement, our focus will continue to be on the intensely personal matters involving Judge Fuller's family and marriage," Ragsdale stated in an email to AL.com. "Neither the court in Georgia nor the Eleventh Circuit (Court of Appeals) need, or I suspect want, the advice of people with their own individual agendas," Ragsdale wrote. "Mr. Watkins' letter is filled with the kind of gross factual and legal inaccuracies that he would have pounced on were he still a practicing trial lawyer. Rather than debate the matter in the press, however, Judge Fuller will continue to cooperate with the relevant authorities and work on healing his relationships with his family."

All Voices, Why aren't feminists calling for the head of white judge who beat his wife? Harold Michael Harvey, Aug. 22, 2014. Is there a double standard, based on race, when it comes to women being outraged over a clear case of domestic violence? Do white women care that white men beat other white women? Does it happen so often that there is a sort of malaise when news comes of a new white on white domestic violence event? These sad questions and others are prompted by the reaction to comments made by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith late last month intimating that women sometimes provoke men to attack them. Almost immediately after uttering these words, Smith drew the ire of co-worker Michelle Beadle, who took to her Twitter account to call Smith out. His comments overshadowed the altercation between Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his then fiancé-turned-wife and were the talk of the blogosphere and media sports shows. Most of the commentators were calling for Smith’s head on a silver platter. The New York Times commissioned a poll that asked “Is it time for Stephen A. Smith to be fired?” Smith, mind you, was not involved in a domestic dispute with a woman. He merely made insensitive comments. Within five days of those comments, ESPN suspended him for five days. Several weeks ago, when National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered Ray Rice to sit out the first game of the season as punishment for his role in this domestic violence episode, feminists decried that the punishment was not severe enough and that the NFL was sending a signal that it was okay to beat up on women. Where is the national outrage? Where is the hue and cry for firing Fuller?

Fuller is shown during his courtroom appearance Aug. 11 in his jail jumpsuit. See also, 11th Circuit Files Complaint Against Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller.

Mark Fuller Fulton County Courthouse screen shotAssociated Press via WKRG (Birmingham), Judge Could Avoid Prosecution in Atlanta, Staff report, Aug. 21, 2014. An Alabama federal judge could avoid prosecution for domestic violence in Atlanta. Programs help some defendants avoid criminal prosecution, and a defense lawyer says U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller is open to such a chance in Fulton County. The defense says Fuller is entering treatment for an unspecified reason, and the Atlanta court offers pre-trial intervention and diversion programs for some defendants. One of the programs is for people in treatment programs. Fuller's defense attorney Jeff Brickman says he plans to talk to a prosecutor soon about the possibility. Brickman says Fuller would welcome the chance to end the case without prosecution. A prosecutor didn't return a message seeking comment.

Associated Press via ABC News, 11th Circuit Files Complaint Against Alabama Federal Judge Mark Fuller, Staff report, Aug. 20, 2014. U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat, acting as the chief judge of the 11th Circuit, sent U.S District Judge Mark Fuller a complaint following his arrest to begin the judicial discipline process outlined under federal law, Fuller's attorney, Barry Ragsdale said. While federal judges serve lifetime appointments and can be removed only through impeachment, legal experts say they also are subject to administrative procedures that can result in censure, reprimands or a request for their resignation. Fuller has three weeks to respond to the complaint by Tjoflat. The 11th Circuit already has stripped Fuller of his cases and stopped sending him new ones. Atlanta police arrested the 55-year-old judge on Aug. 10 and charged him with misdemeanor battery after his wife called 911 from a hotel and said he was beating her. 

Facebook, Fuller the Wife-Beater, Dana Jill Simpson, Aug. 16, 2014. I thought you all might enjoy Andy Kreig's new article in Alabama's Milbrook Independent, Siegelman’s Judge Charged With Wife Beating. Andy highlights all that I said about Mark Fuller's role in the Siegelman case years ago. He also mentions how I was furious at the University of Alabama Law School for allowing Fuller to speak on ethics several years back. I thought I would share before you read it exactly why I thought it was so horrible that the university brought Fuller to campus that year.

Montgomery Advertiser, Watkins Calls For Maximum Sentence For Fuller, Rick Harmon, Aug. 15, 2014. Donald Watkins sent out an open letter Thursday requesting that if U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller is found guilty on charges of misdemeanor battery that he be sentenced to the maximum year in jail. In the letter, Watkins said Fuller does not give defendants a fair trial in his courtroom. "We are asking that you give Fuller something he never affords criminal defendants in his courtroom — a fair trial," the letter says.

Donald WatkinsFacebook, Who is George L. Beck, Jr., and Why Does He Look the Other Way?  Donald V. Watkins (shown at right), Aug. 17, 2014. His name is George L. Beck, Jr. He is the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. President Obama appointed Beck to the top federal prosecutor’s job in Montgomery in 2011. Beck’s Senate confirmation took a mere three months from the date of his nomination, even in the midst of a gridlocked Congress, because Beck enjoys the support and loyalty of Alabama’s two Republican senators, as well as its Republican governor and state attorney general. For all practical purposes, Beck is a “closet” Republican. Not one subpoena was sent in Federal Judge Mark Fuller’s direction. This was surprising because it has been an “open” secret for many years in courthouse circles that Fuller uses the power of his judicial position and the resources of his office to employ court personnel with whom he has affairs. Fuller’s courthouse liaisons are legendary.

Above the Law, Clerkships, Crime, Federal Judges, Sex, Sex Scandals, Violence, Staci Zaretsky, Aug. 15, 2014. Federal Judge Accused Of Beating His Wife Allegedly Has Sleazy History With Women. Earlier this week, we brought our readers the sordid tale of Judge Mark Fuller, a federal jurist facing allegations of domestic violence brought by his wife, Kelli Fuller. The judge is also accused of having an affair with one of his law clerks. Today, we’ve got some additional updates. Fuller’s marriage to his ex-wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller, was allegedly rife with troubles, ranging from adultery to abuse to addiction. His alleged affair with his then-deputy may have contributed to his divorce from his former wife. As to the current case, the Associated Press obtained audio from the 911 call made by his wife. About a minute into the call, as the initial dispatcher patches an ambulance dispatcher into the call, the woman identified as Kelli Fuller, 41, can be heard saying ‘I hate you, I hate you.” A male voice responds: “I hate you too” followed by dull noises in the background. This is absolutely disgusting behavior for a federal judge if the allegations turn out to be true.