A number of online news outlets picked up on the discrepancy. Perhaps my favorite was from Esquire, with the title "A Tale of Two Thugs."
You might think Fuller's hearing last Friday in Atlanta would have been a somber occasion. But the judge and his lawyer issued two of the most outrageous quotes I've heard in a while. Either Fuller and his lawyer think the public consists of dolts--or they are trying out for the comedy-club circuit, or both.
Here are a few of the disturbing questions raised by the Rice and Fuller cases:
* Do Americans hold professional football players to a higher standard than they have for federal judges?
* Is Rice getting rougher treatment because he is black, and Fuller is white?
* Do we need protests like the one that followed the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri?
Yes, video evidence played a key role in sealing Ray Rice's fate. But there is powerful audio evidence in the Fuller case--where it sounds like a serious beating is being administered to Fuller's wife in an Atlanta hotel room. She is heard to scream, "He's beating on me! Please help me!"
What about those quotes that came out of the Fuller hearing? Let's try this one, as reported by al.com, from attorney Barry Ragsdale, referring to Fuller:
"He doesn't have a drug or alcohol problem and never has," Ragsdale said.
Right, that's why Fuller accepted a 24-week diversion program administered by a Georgia court that, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, includes drug and alcohol evaluation. My research shows that 90 days is standard for drug rehab. Fuller is getting twice that long, but we are to believe he has no drug or alcohol problems? Sheesh!
Here's the outrageous Fuller quote:
"I reached this difficult decision after consulting with my family, and deciding that it was in every one's best interests to put this incident behind us," Fuller stated. "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."
Mark Fuller wants "the full and complete facts" to come out? This is the same guy who, during a divorce from his first wife, asked that the case file be sealed so that revelations about extramarital affairs, alcohol abuse, prescription-drug abuse, and child abuse would not come out. (Alabama attorney Donald Watkins states on his Facebook page that he has all the brutal details about the beating Kelli Gregg Fuller sustained, and he intends to publish them.)
During Fuller's 2012 divorce, Montgomery Independent Editor Bob Martin addressed some of the ethical issues that appeared to be present. And Martin showed they appeared to involve violations of the public trust and possible misuse of public funds. Wrote Martin:
Those in a position to know, report that the affair by Judge Fuller, conducted with his former Courtroom Deputy Clerk and bailiff, Kelli Gregg, has been ongoing for four or five years and is basically an “open secret” in the building. Ms. Gregg, who has two children, was divorced by her husband about six months ago.
Sources in a position to know tell the newspaper that Fuller and Gregg have traveled together extensively, including trips to Dothan, New York, Tallahassee and perhaps Las Vegas.
To borrow a phrase from Esquire, Ray Rice seems to be a thug who got what he deserved. But Judge Mark Fuller also seems to be a thug, and he has received mostly protective treatment from his judicial brethren.
The public should not rest until Mark Fuller has been held accountable. And clear signs of racial favoritism in these two cases should not be ignored.