Back in September, Bush-appointed Judge Mark Fuller managed to weasel his way out of justice for the charge of domestic violence after he beat his wife in a hotel room during an argument.
You may recall Judge Fuller's name from the Don Siegelman corruption trial, where he presided over the kangaroo court that sent the former governor to jail on corruption charges. For Judge Fuller, justice is a one-way street. He gets off, but political foes go to jail.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, a five-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has convened to decide whether action should be taken against him, and the House of Representatives is considering whether or not he should be impeached.
Brad Friedman has obtained audio of the 911 call Fuller's wife made during the argument. I warn you now: It is triggering for anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence.
Fuller's attorney claims in the LA Times interview that it was Fuller who was attacked by his wife, and not the other way around. He fails, however, to explain why the judge emerged unscathed, while she showed obvious signs of being beaten. (Note: The full audio is available at Brad Friedman's blog. The video above is an excerpt played by MSNBC just after Fuller was arrested)
Here's what Judge Fuller's attorney says about that evening, as reported by the Times:
Ragsdale said Fuller acted in self-defense. He said when Fuller refused to fire the law clerk, his wife "throws a glass at him and rushes at him while he is lying in bed" in his underwear watching television.
"He reaches up, defending himself, and grabs her by the hair and the shoulder," Ragsdale said. "Standing up, he throws her on the bed. She rolls off onto the floor and got a bloody lip. He never intended to hurt her."
If there was no record of any other incidents this might be believable. But there are possibly others.
Documents from his 2012 divorce proceedings with his first wife, however — documents that were sealed by the court shortly after they were first surfaced publicly by independent Alabama journalist Roger Shuler — indicate eerily similar circumstances in Fuller’s first marriage as the ones that are alleged to have taken place in August of 2014.
Fuller and his first wife Lisa split up after an alleged affair between Fuller and his then court bailiff, Kelli Gregg, who would eventually marry Judge Fuller and become his next alleged victim.
The chilling 2012 documents filed by Lisa Fuller, ask the Judge to respond to allegations that he had “hit, kicked, struck, or otherwise physically abused” both her and their children; drove under the influence of alcohol with their kids in the car; was addicted to prescription medication; and had an “extramarital affair” and “sexual intercourse” with his court bailiff Kelli Gregg.
Immediately after the 2012 documents were filed, the couple struck a settlement deal, and the documents were then sealed by the court against the “strenuous objections” of Lisa Fuller, according to reporting at the time published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Therefore, those documents were not available to the state judge at the time she allowed Fuller off with a slap-on-the-wrist pretrial diversion deal which, once completed, literally strikes all evidence of the charges from his criminal record — as if it never happened.
Even conservative have called for him to step down from the bench, but instead, he appears to be working the refs by sending his lawyer out to give his version to the press.
The fact that a previous domestic violence case was on the record, but sealed, while Judge Fuller asked the court for lenience on the charges in the current case raises serious questions about his fitness for the bench. But beyond that, it raises serious questions about the cases he has tried.
From where I'm sitting, the principle of "false in one, false in all" not only applies to Judge Fuller's experience in the justice system, but also calls his administration of justice into question, particularly in cases like Don Siegelman's. A man who beats his wife and lies about it isn't someone fit to render judgment and call it justice.
Don Siegelman can testify to that.
Prior to this incident, Judge Mark Fuller, appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush in 2002 after serving as Chair of Alabama’s Republican Party, was perhaps best known for his questionable handling of the political corruption trial and sentencing of former Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Siegelman, currently serving a 6.5 year sentence in federal prison, is appealing his conviction and seeking a new trial based on a number of issues, including claims backed by 113 bi-partisan former U.S. state Attorneys Generalthat he was charged for something that had never been a crime before he was charged with it, and that Fuller’s own long-time grudges against Siegelman, as well as personal conflicts of interest, should have required his recusal from the case.
Or, as the Times’ Phelps briefly described it over the weekend: “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.”