U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller, 55, has been arrested and released on a $5,000 bond after being accused of hitting his wife, Kelli Fuller. He was arrested at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown Atlanta.
The former prosecutor was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002 and was later made chief judge from 2004 until 2011. He married Kelli Fuller, 41, after he divorced his previous wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller, in 2012.
Police say that the Fullers have accused each other of starting the fight. Kelli Fuller, 41, said that the fight ensured after she accused her husband of having an affair with a law clerk and that he responded by pulling her hair, throwing her to the ground, and then dragging and kicking her (including several times to the face). The judge insists that his wife threw a drink at him and that he grabbed her and tossed her to the ground in self-defense.
When Mrs. Fuller answered the door, police officers saw visible cuts on her mouth and forehead as well as bruises on her legs. Officers also say that the judge was found on the bed and smelling of alcohol and that they saw glass and hair on the floor as well as blood in the bathroom.
Kelli’s 17-year-old son, Hunter Gregg, told police that the couple has a volatile relationship and that “this was not the first time an incident like this had occurred.” He said that he heard his step father and mother arguing when he passed by their room.
The judge raced a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Fuller is relatively young and not near retirement from the Middle District of Alabama. He was previously the subject of scathing criticism for his role in the trial of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Fuller, a lifelong Republican and party donor, was accused of a series of conflicts of interest. Those concerns were magnified when Fuller would not accept a hung jury despite twice being informed that the jury could not reach a verdict for Siegelman and co-Defendant Richard Scrushy, founder and former CEO of HealthSouth, on allegations of federal funds bribery. Fuller told the jurors that they could face “a lifetime job . . . as a juror” while noting that he had “a lifetime appointment” and was “a very patient person.” That lifetime job however may not be as secure as he thought.
If convicted of a misdemeanor, the judge could fight any effort of impeachment as falling below the type of conduct warranting removal from the life-time appointment to the federal bench. Private conduct can be grounds for impeachment but the removal provision has been largely confined to breaches connected to the office or crimes that would constitute serious unethical or criminal conduct. Spousal abuse is clearly quite serious but he could argue that the matter was charged as a misdemeanor and has already alleged that there were mitigating circumstances or a defense of innocence in the matter. If he pleads or is found guilty, it could come down to how the final conviction is framed in terms of the specific counts.
Source: ABC News