Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

New York Times: Federal Judge Accused of Assaulting Wife Is Urged to Resign

Sep 18, 2014
In The News

ATLANTA — With the National Football League under intensifying scrutiny for its handling of family violence allegations, similar issues are putting increasing pressure on a less likely figure: an Alabama federal judge accused of striking his wife at a luxury hotel here.

Alabama’s two United States senators on Wednesday called for the judge, Mark E. Fuller, to step down nearly six weeks after he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery after a confrontation with his wife. He has since agreed to participate in a pretrial diversion program.

“The American people’s trust in our judicial system depends on the character and integrity of those who have the distinct honor of sitting on the bench,” Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, said in a statement. “I believe that Judge Mark Fuller has lost the confidence of his colleagues and the people of the state of Alabama. I urge him to resign immediately.”

Senator Jeff Sessions, another Alabama Republican, also said the judge should step down.

Earlier in the week, Representative Martha Roby, Republican of Alabama, raised the possibility that Judge Fuller could be subject to impeachment, and another member of the state’s congressional delegation pressed him to quit.

“If an N.F.L. 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,” Representative Terri A. Sewell, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It is my hope that Judge Fuller would spare us the expense and further public humiliation by doing the right thing and resigning.”

Judge Fuller, an appointee of President George W. Bush who joined the Middle District of Alabama court in Montgomery in 2002, has for years been one of the most high-profile jurists in Alabama. He presided over the corruption trial of a former governor, Don E. Siegelman.

But since his arrest, he has had very little to do on the bench. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which sits in Atlanta, quicklyannounced that he would not be assigned any new cases, and the judges also ordered that pending matters be reassigned.

In an incident report filed early on Aug. 10, hours after the arrest, an Atlanta police officer wrote that Judge Fuller’s tearful wife had opened the door at a Ritz-Carlton hotel and displayed “visible lacerations to her mouth and forehead.” An officer noted “a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” coming from the room.

Mrs. Fuller, who had summoned the authorities in a panicked 911 call, told the police that she and her husband had begun arguing after she questioned him about her suspicions that he was having a sexual relationship with a law clerk.

“Mrs. Fuller stated that 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 denied many of his wife’s allegations and said he had acted to protect himself after she threw a Sprite and a drink glass toward him.