Monday, October 22, 2007

Judge Fuller Under the Microscope

A top legal ethicist says an affidavit from Missouri attorney Paul Benton Weeks adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller was unsuited for the Don Siegelman trial.

Scott Horton, of Harper's, interviews Professor David Luban, of Georgetown University, about key points in the Weeks affidavit.

Luban seems particularly struck by the fact that Siegelman, as governor of Alabama, appointed Gary McAliley to replace Fuller as district attorney when Fuller became a federal judge. McAliley proceeded to investigate Fuller's financial management of the DA's office in Pike and Coffee counties.

"The possibility of personal anger against Siegelman on Fuller's part is just the kind of thing that the judicial disqualification law tries to guard against," Luban says. "You simply can't preside over a criminal case against somebody who appointed a DA to investigate you."

Luban also notes that the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the U.S. Justice Department possessed the Weeks affidavit at the time it was "signing papers in the Siegelman case attesting to Judge Fuller's rectitude."

The fact that Fuller refused to recuse himself from a case involving the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) and Enron, even though an RSA appeals board had ruled against him on a proposed pay bump for one of Fuller's employees, also jumps out at Luban. The professor notes that Fuller's actions in the RSA case were similar to those he took in the Siegelman case.

"Why did PIN go out of their way to support Judge Fuller's decision not to disqualify himself in the Siegelman case? At the very least, it shows remarkably bad judgment on the part of PIN."

Weeks' affidavit is filled with damning information about Fuller, and we will take a closer look at it shortly.

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