|U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller|
Quite a few Americans probably were shocked to learn that a federal judge from Alabama was arrested over the weekend on charges of assaulting his wife in an Atlanta hotel room. But to those who have closely followed the career of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama), the charges are not a surprise.
During a 2012 divorce from his first wife, Fuller faced allegations of domestic abuse, extramarital affairs, driving under the influence, abuse of prescription medications, and more. Why is that not well known among the public? Here is the likely reason: Lisa Boyd Fuller filed for divorce on May 10, 2012, and her complaint and interrogatories quickly found their way into the Alabama press. The complaint was fairly mild, but the interrogatories raised all sorts of unsavory issues about the judge. Mark Fuller's lawyer then requested that the file be sealed, and an Alabama state judge granted the request, even though divorce records generally are considered public records.
Fuller is best known for presiding over the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. A number of legal experts have stated that Fuller's dubious rulings and failure to handle an apparently tainted jury caused two innocent men to spend time in prison. (Scrushy has served his term; Siegelman remains in federal prison at Oakdale, LA.) Some ethics experts have started that conflicts of interest should have precluded Fuller from ever taking a spot on the federal bench. As an owner in Colorado-based Doss Aviation, Fuller has earned significant sums from U.S. government contracts. When he presides as a federal judge in a criminal matter, one of the parties is the United States Government. That was the case in the Siegelman/Scrushy matter, and defendants argued that Fuller was hardly an impartial arbiter, as required by law. Fuller, however, refused to step down from the case.
Andrew Kreig, of the Justice-Integrity Project, has an excellent overview of the court-related controversies that have swirled around Fuller since his appointment to the federal bench by George W. Bush in 2002.
For now, Fuller is the headlines for problems on the domestic front. And this is not the first time those issues have been in the news--although the Alabama state judiciary mostly covered them up the first time by sealing court records.
Perhaps most disturbing in the divorce case were signs that Fuller has abused drugs, perhaps for years. Lisa Boyd Fuller's lawyer produced a document suggesting Fuller obtained prescription drugs from at least six difference pharmacies. This is from one of our 2012 posts on the subject:
The divorce complaint filed against U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller raises a number of troubling issues. But drug addiction might be No. 1 on the list.
Lisa Boyd Fuller's complaint includes no shortage of titillating issues, including extramarital affairs and domestic abuse. But those go primarily to Mark Fuller's character outside the courtroom. Drug addiction, however, goes to Fuller's fitness to serve on the federal bench.
It also raises these troubling questions: Has Fuller's mind been clouded by illicit drug use while serving as a judge? Have civil cases been unlawfully decided because the judge was more or less high? Have some citizens, including former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, been wrongfully sent to federal prison in part because Mark Fuller was on uppers, downers, painkillers, mind numbers--or some combination of them all.
Requests for admissions in the divorce case give an idea of the serious issues that were on Lisa Boyd Fuller's mind. Here is a sample, broken into four categories, from one of our 2012 posts:
1. Admit or deny that you have had an extramarital affair with a person or persons during the course of your marriage to the Plaintiff.
2. Admit or deny that you are continuing to have an extramarital affair.
3. Admit or deny that you have stayed overnight and had sexual intercourse with a person or persons other than your spouse during the course of your marriage.
4. Admit or deny that you have had sexual intercourse with a person or persons other than your spouse during the course of your marriage.
5. Admit or deny that you have admitted to your spouse that you have had sexual intercourse with a person or persons other than your spouse during the course of your marriage.
As you can see, Lisa Fuller and her attorney, Floyd Minor, are not pussyfooting around. On to category No. 2:
Driving Under the Influence
7. Admit or deny that you have driven a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol during the course of your marriage.
8. Admit or deny that you have driven a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and with one or more of your children in the vehicle as passengers, during the course of your marriage.
12. Admit or deny that you have cursed your spouse or directed abusive language to your spouse.
13. Admit or deny that you have hit, kicked, struck, or otherwise physically abused your spouse during the course of your marriage.
14. Admit or deny that you have hit, kicked, struck, or otherwise physically abused your children during the course of your marriage to Plaintiff.
16. Admit or deny that you are addicted to prescription medication.
For now, the key questions seem to be Nos. 13 and 14. They suggest that Fuller "hit, kicked, struck, or otherwise physically abused" his spouse and children during his first marriage. Thanks to a 2012 seal that likely was unlawful, the public never learned Mark Fuller's answers to those and other questions.
Here we are in 2014, with a report that Fuller has assaulted his second wife.
Should we be surprised? No. Should this man be on the federal bench.?
We will leave that question for our readers to decide.