Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ethics Complaint Raises Many Disturbing Questions About Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange And His Assault On Non-Indian Gaming Facilities

Luther Strange
An Alabama pastor has filed an ethics complaint against the state's attorney general, claiming Luther Strange has tried to improperly intervene in a perjury case connected to a raid the AG's office conducted at an electronic-bingo facility.

John Kennard, a pastor and long-time tax assessor in Greene County, Alabama, says Strange's actions represent a clear conflict of interest.

Kennard seems to have a strong point. And prompted by Kennard's complaint to the Alabama Ethics Commission, we can think of numerous disturbing questions about Strange and the office he runs. But first, let's look at key background.

A Greene County grand jury brought perjury charges against three men who testified on behalf of the AG's office in order to obtain a search warrant for a 2011 raid at the Greenetrack casino. A judge determined after the raid that the men--two ABC agents and a gambling expert hired by Strange's office--had made false statements under oath.

Strange now is seeking to intervene in the perjury case and drop the prosecution. From the Montgomery Advertiser:

“I find it to be a clear conflict of interest, an obvious conflict of interest,” said Kennard, who also filed the complaint with the Alabama Bar Association. “No one who looks at this objectively could miss the problem. If it’s not illegal, it’s certainly unethical.”

The Montgomery Advertiser asked Strange’s office for a comment on Kennard’s ethics complaint or an explanation for why it’s attempting to intervene in the Greene County perjury case. A spokesperson in the AG’s office confirmed receipt of the request but did not provide a comment.

ABC agents William Stanley Carson and Gary Michael Reese and gambling expert Desmond Ladner face indictments for perjury. Greene County district attorney Greg Griggers seeks to bring the three men to court, but Strange's office has filed papers to intervene.

Here are more details from the Greene County Democrat:

The ethics complaint questions whether Attorney General Luther Strange acted properly when he took over the cases of three defendants charged by a Greene County Grand Jury with illegal acts when they were under his command and authority. The complaint states, “ the three defendants were hired by the Attorney General’s Office, directly or were provided to his office, to be a part of his illegal gaming task force.”

The complaint further states that Attorney General Luther Strange took over the cases not to prosecute them but to quash or nol prose the indictments of the legitimately convened Greene County Grand Jury.

The Greene County newspaper describes the impact electronic-bingo raids have had on its area and similar counties in Alabama. Citizens of Greene County in 2003 approved a constitutional amendment that allowed e-bingo in the county:

At its height, before the raids, electronic bingo establishments employed over a thousand people in Greene County and generated $200,000 per month to support the Greene County Board of Education, Greene County Commission, municipalities in Greene County, the Greene County Sheriff’s office and other charities. AG Strange has also closed electronic bingo facilities in Macon, Lowndes and Houston counties.

Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee in Macon County has filed a suit in Federal Court against AG Luther Strange for restricting the voting rights of Macon County residents because of his actions in closing down bingo at Victoryland in Shorter, Macon County, Alabama. This lawsuit is pending at the Federal (11th) Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

What about those disturbing questions regarding Luther Strange? Here are a few that come to mind:

* Is Strange trying to quash the perjury prosecution in Greene County because he and/or his staff instructed the three "experts" to lie under oath? Could that information become public if the case is tried?

* If Strange and his office resorted to such tactics in Greene County, did they do the same thing in Macon, Houston, and Lowndes counties?

* Aren't the Poarch Creek Indians the major beneficiary of Strange's actions to close non-Indian e-bingo facilities? Don't the raids wipe out the tribe's competition? Didn't Strange receive major campaign contributions from the Poarch Creeks? Was an illegal quid pro quo involved in said contributions? Did Strange agree to close non-Indian casinos in exchange for the tribe's support. If so, isn't that the kind of unlawful act that can lead to a federal prison sentence?

* If the answer to the above questions is yes, doesn't that mean Luther Strange is a criminal, running a criminal enterprise out of the Alabama Attorney General's Office?

* Will the U.S. Department of Justice ever scrutinize the curious actions of Luther Strange and his like-minded conservatives regarding the closing of non-Indian casinos--after taking, or arranging for the transfer of, large sums of money from Indian gaming interests? These associates include former Governor Bob Riley and his son Rob Riley, conservative activist Eric Johnston, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, and every member of the Alabama Supreme Court?

* Speaking of the Alabama Supreme Court, it has made a long string of dubious rulings that allowed Bob Riley and Strange to pursue e-bingo raids against non-Indian facilities. In some instances, the high court appeared to contradict its own previous rulings. Has there been unlawful communication between certain conservative forces and the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court? If so, doesn't that make a mockery of "justice" in the state--and shouldn't it be the subject of a federal criminal investigation?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Lost My Job Six Years Ago For Reporting That Judge Mark Fuller Is Corrupt; Now, the Whole Country Knows It's True--And I'm Still Out Of A Job

Mark Fuller
I was "fired" as an editor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2008 for reporting on this blog that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller was repeatedly ruling unlawfully and corruptly in the criminal trial of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. In other words, I wrote that Fuller lacked integrity--and I got "fired" for it.

Six years later, in the wake of reports that Fuller has entered rehab because of charges that he recently assaulted his wife in an Atlanta hotel room, the whole world knows Fuller lacks the ethical standards to be a federal judge. Even the staunchly conservative (formerly The Birmingham News) has stated that Fuller "compromised his integrity" and should resign.

Recent events have proven that my reporting from 2007 and 2008 was right on target, that I was right all along. The events also have proven that other journalism "early responders" on the Fuller story, including Scott Horton of Harper's and Glynn Wilson of Locust Fork News, also were right.

But I've yet to see an article about the exemplary job the digital press did in exposing a corrupt federal judge, while mainstream outlets either ignored the story or were slow to examine it. As for me, I'm still out of a job, and my wife and I have suffered financial devastation--all because I reported accurately about a judge that even his one-time staunch supporters now admit has no business serving on the federal bench.

That's why the flood of Fuller stories over the past two weeks hit so close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. When I first started reporting on the Siegelman case, I had worked at UAB for almost 20 years; I had worked as a professional journalist for almost 30 years. I knew what I was talking about--and history now proves that, without question. But I still got cheated out of my job, and that job never has been replaced, leading to untold misery for my family.

Why do I say "cheated" out of my job? Well, it's undisputed that I wrote my blog on my own time, away from work. It's also undisputed that, as a government employee, I had First Amendment protection to comment on matters of public concern--and that's exactly what I did with my posts about Mark Fuller's actions in the Siegelman/Scrushy case.

Under the facts and the law--and I sat through a four-hour grievance hearing where all of the relevant facts were laid out--I could not have been fired, or even disciplined, at UAB. But I was ousted anyway. How does that happen?

In my view, it happened because certain political/legal forces wanted to protect Fuller's reputation so that the Siegelman/Scrushy convictions would look legitimate. These forces are part of the Alabama oligarchy that prominent attorney Donald Watkins says protects "conservative" judges like Fuller, who in turn protects their financial interests. My reporting, which showed exactly how Fuller was acting outside the law, threatened the plan to legitimize the Siegelman/Scrushy convictions. And as a state employee, I was an easy target. I lost my job, and UAB butchered the First Amendment and all kinds of federal anti-discrimination laws in the process.

We now know that Fuller's reputation wasn't worth protecting. Even his one-time supporters at admit that. A Republican appointee who is corrupt enough to sicken even the editorial board is has to be pretty bad.

Now that it's been proven I was right about Fuller from the outset, how does that make me feel? Vindicated? Satisfied? Justified? I'm not sure any of those is the right word. My wife and I now have to worry about our ability to keep a roof over our heads, putting meals on the table, and paying bills in the future.

My reporting on Judge Mark Fuller, which was both accurate and well ahead of its time, has led to horrible real-world consequences for my wife, our kitty kats, and me. Worries about those consequences are so overwhelming in my mind that I can't even decide what words best describe my feelings about recent events involving Judge Fuller--although I know for sure that I feel sorry for any woman who might come into his orbit. Based on what we know about recent events in Atlanta, plus Fuller's divorce from his first wife, the man clearly is dangerous, with alcohol and substance-abuse issues to fuel his rages.

This post is likely to raise a number of questions for readers, so let's touch on some of them before closing.

How do I know it was my reporting on Fuller's actions in the Siegelman/Scrushy case that caused me to be "fired?" A UAB human-resources official, in so many words, told me just that--and I caught the conversation on audiotape

Why do I have the word "fired" in quotation marks in the opening paragraph and elsewhere in this post? I've come to realize that the record is unclear whether I actually was terminated or not. A friend of long standing, who has 30 years of experience in state government and higher education, recently heard a chronology of events leading to my ouster--and he says it's doubtful that what happened could accurately be called a firing. After all, the term "firing" indicates I did something wrong, which violated policy in such a way as to justify immediate termination. My grievance hearing showed I did no such thing. In fact, as I've reported previously, the UAB grievance committee that heard my case found that I should not have been fired--but the director of human resources ousted me from my job anyway--and then university president Carol Garrison supported that decision. Is that a firing? What do you call it?

In such a case of obvious wrongdoing by a state university, why did I not win my First Amendment/discrimination lawsuit? If anyone thinks Mark Fuller is the only rogue among federal judges on the bench in Alabama, he or she is sadly mistaken. U.S. District Judge William Acker, who is getting close to 90 years old, handled my case and made unlawful rulings that defy clearly established law, not to mention common sense. Acker granted summary judgment to the UA System without allowing any discovery. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the law and civil procedure knows that can't be done--but Acker did it anyway. In fact, Acker might have even less integrity than Mark Fuller--if that is possible.

We will address these questions in future posts. But for now, I think I've thought of a word that might best describe how I feel in light of recent proof that I was on target about Mark Fuller, long before it was cool to say he has integrity issues. The word is "hungry"--as in hungry for justice.

Why that word? Well, I recently read an article about "traumatic psychiatric injury." It's different from standard depression or anxiety, and I suspect many victims of courtroom abuse suffer from it. I'm talking about victims I've written about on this blog--Sherry Rollins, Paul Minor, Linda Upton, Mark Hayden, Bonnie Cahalane, Wes Teel, and many more.

The most common cause of traumatic psychiatric injury is bullying. My wife and I have been bullied for 14 years, ever since a bogus lawsuit filed by a criminally inclined neighbor started our legal nightmare. The people mentioned above all have been bullied by the court system--and loads of public documents, many of which we've posted here, prove it.

As for traumatic psychiatric injury, the article states that victims tend to never stop searching for justice. They usually never stop holding out hope that the proper people will be held accountable in some lawful way. Specifically, the article states, the victim "looks forward to each new day as an opportunity to fight for justice."

So call me hungry for justice. And I doubt that will ever change.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Saga Of Federal Judge Mark Fuller Illustrates The Hypocrisy That Permeates Alabama's "Justice" System

A federal judge was forced to step down in Alabama 12 years ago, apparently over rumors about womanizing. Judge H. Dean Buttram Jr., appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton, quietly resigned after only four years on the bench.

Current U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller is expected to keep his seat, even though he faces criminal charges of battery against his wife in an incident that allegedly started after she accused him of having an affair with a law clerk. Fuller is a Republican appointee, with George W. Bush picking him in 2002.

Prominent Alabama attorney Donald Watkins, in an article published on Facebook yesterday, points to the Buttram and Fuller stories as an example of the hypocrisy that reigns among corporate and legal elites in Alabama. Writes Watkins:

Buttram’s alleged womanizing never spilled over to the public arena. He was never arrested for battering his wife or any other woman. Whatever conduct compelled the judges to ask for Buttram’s resignation never rose to the level of a public spectacle. Buttram came to the bench as a scholar and gentleman, and he left as one.

Fast forward to August 11, 2014.

Montgomery federal judge Mark Fuller was bailed out of jail in Atlanta. Fuller, in a drunken rage, had savagely beaten his second wife Kelli Fuller in an Atlanta hotel room just two days earlier. Fuller’s mugshot has been plastered all over the Internet since the beating. Both his first wife Lisa and current wife Kelli have accused Fuller of womanizing. Lisa divorced Fuller amid such allegations. Fuller caved in without much of a fight, rather than answer questions under oath about his alleged alcohol and drug dependency, his verbal and physical abuse toward Lisa, and his infidelity. Kelli accused Fuller of cheating on her with his law clerk. Kelli’s accusation triggered Fuller’s violent behavior. He hit, body-slammed, and kicked Kelli until her battered body was covered in blood. Paramedics had to treat Kelli at the scene.

What is more, Fuller apparently made false statements to the police officers who were called to the scene to investigate his beating of Kelli. His version of the events was contradicted by Kelli’s account, which was supported by the physical evidence at the crime scene. In Georgia, making a false and material statement to a police officer investigating a crime scene is a felony crime. Fuller’s conduct in making false statements to the police officers at the scene has provided Fulton County prosecutors with an opportunity to add a felony charge against Fuller.

Mainstream and social media outlets are clamoring for Fuller’s resignation.

Fuller likely will stay on the bench, and he is expected to avoid criminal prosecution. Why the radically different outcomes in the Buttram and Fuller cases? Watkins spells it out:

This is judicial hypocrisy in action. Buttram had to leave the bench, but Fuller can stay. When the accused judge is a Democratic appointee, he must resign. When he is a Republican appointee, he can come back to the bench after he “deals with these serious issues”.

We need one standard of personal and professional integrity for federal judges, and it must apply across-the-board. The judges who are pushing a double standard for the benefit of Fuller ought to be ashamed of themselves. They need to resign too.

Please join me in saying goodbye to criminal defendant Mark Fuller and his sympathizers. Fuller should leave the bench now. Wife-beaters, drug and alcohol abusers, philanderers, and liars are out. Truthful and clean living judges who have respect for women are in. No exceptions will be tolerated.

In an earlier Facebook post, Watkins provided the best explanation I've read of behind-the-scenes king making in a wildly corrupt Deep South state:

In case you did not know, Alabama is a state dominated by the Republican Party. This oligarchy included Governor Robert Bentley, both of Alabama’s U.S. Senators, all but one member of the state’s Congressional delegation, most of the state’s legislators, most of Alabama’s federal and state judges, and the Alabama Business Council, among others. . . .

The oligarchy has known about Fuller’s propensity to beat his wives and infidelity for years, but it did not matter as long as he was protecting their interest on the federal bench. He made them extremely proud during the seven years that he served as chief judge. None of Fuller’s comrades in the oligarchy have spoken out about his recent arrest for spousal abuse. In Alabama, money is power. . . .

After Fuller’s arrest in Atlanta, the oligarchy made it clear to mainstream media outlets in Alabama that there would be no media-feeding frenzy over Fuller’s wife-beating story. They were instructed to ignore the story, to the extent possible. This is why the stories reported by Alabama media outlets have originated from out-of-state media organizations and my Facebook posts.

Reportedly, the oligarchy is arranging for Fuller to enter into an anger management program, an alcohol and drug abuse program, and a facility for the treatment of Fuller’s alleged sexual addiction. They will try to buy his wife's silence with a nice financial settlement in divorce proceedings that is well above the amount specified in his pre-nuptial agreement. They are working feverishly to get Fuller’s criminal case dismissed. In Alabama, money is power.

When it is all said and done, a new and spit-shined version of Mark Fuller will be rolled out to the public. He will apologize for his bad behavior, pronounce himself as cured of his demons, wrap himself in God and the flag, and march back into his courtroom to dispense justice out to regular Alabamians.

Friday, August 22, 2014

News Organization's Call For Judge Mark Fuller's Resignation, Based On Integrity, Comes Way Too Late

Mark Fuller
Alabama's largest news organization has called on U.S. Judge Mark Fuller to resign in the wake of charges that he beat up his wife in an Atlanta hotel room. Fuller should step down, notes, because of his "personal failings," and the site notes he plans to enter a rehab center for treatment. The editorial concludes by stating that Fuller has "compromised his integrity."

That statement assumes Fuller had integrity in the first place while the public record shows he's been lacking in that department for a long time--and has ignored it.

We already see signs that any attempt to prosecute Fuller for misdemeanor battery will be a whitewash. In fact, a report out yesterday, indicates Fuller probably will avoid prosecution altogether. Public calls for the judge to resign are likely to go unheard by the judicial establishment, which appears determined to protect one of its own.

(A personal note: I'm one of numerous journalists or legal experts across the country--Scott Horton, Andrew Kreig, Dana Jill Simpson, Grant Woods, Bennett L. Gershman, and Peter B. Collins are among the others--who have questioned Fuller's integrity on the bench for years. In fact, tape-recorded evidence proves that I was cheated out of my job at a public university, the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB], because of my reporting about Fuller's unethical handling of the Don Siegelman/Richard Scrushy criminal case. We now have admitting Fuller lacks integrity, essentially confirming my reporting from six-plus years ago [which was conducted on my own time, away from work, and I was protected as a state employee by the First Amendment.]  I can't help but notice the irony of, which largely championed Fuller's handling of the Siegelman/Scrushy at the time, now admitting the judge lacks integrity. I'm sure the Siegelman and Scrushy families notice the irony, too. We'll have more in a future post about why the Fuller story hits so close to home for me.)

For now, let's look at's editorial as a classic example of how the modern mainstream media fails the public. Fuller's unethical behavior has been evident for years, but reporters and editors at refused to pay attention. (So did U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, who supported Fuller's nomination to the federal bench by George W. Bush.) Here is an excellent overview, published yesterday, of the many signs that Fuller has lacked integrity for years--and not just in his personal life.

Where to begin with evidence of Fuller's unethical acts, which predate his appointment to the federal bench in 2002? Here are just a couple of examples:

* A Missouri attorney named Paul Benton Weeks provided a lengthy and detailed affidavit showing that Fuller, as a district attorney in south Alabama, tried to defraud a state pension fund in order to provide extra cash for a favored employee.

* As a part owner in Colorado-based Doss Aviation, Fuller benefited financially from U.S. government contracts. In any criminal case before him as a judge, the U.S. government is a party. The conflict presented by Doss should be evident to any rational being, but Fuller refused multiple requests in the Siegelman/Scrushy case to recuse himself. Scott Horton, of Harper's, wrote the definitive article on this subject, titled "The Pork Barrel World of Judge Mark Fuller."

As for Fuller's dubious handling of the Siegelman/Scrushy case, here is a sampling of our posts on that subject:

* Fuller allowed the prosecution to get away with writing a vague indictment that hid the fact the alleged unlawful transaction between Scrushy and Siegelman happened almost a full year outside the five-year statute of limitations. When evidence finally proved that the charges could not lawfully go forward, defense lawyers properly asserted the limitations defense, and Fuller denied it. There never should have been a trial because, by law, the charges were outdated and time barred.

* Fuller allowed a runaway jury to get away with all kinds of transgressions, including improper e-mail communications between jurors and communications between a juror and a member of the defense team.

* Fuller gave unlawful jury instructions, failing to instruct the jury on the critical "explicit agreement" framework required by controlling law, a U.S. Supreme Court case styled McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991).

That last bit of legal "handiwork" meant Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted of a "crime that doesn't exist." Scrushy has served his sentence, but Siegelman remains in a federal prison at Oakdale, Louisiana.

We could go on, but you get the idea: By law, the Siegelman/Scrushy trial should have been over, with all charges dropped, almost before it got started. Instead, thanks to Fuller's unlawful actions, two citizens who were not guilty went to federal prison.

That should terrify all caring citizens. But has just now decided Judge Fuller has a problem with integrity? Perceptive observers knew that at least seven years ago. The big question is this: Did Mark Fuller have any integrity to begin with, even when he started his judicial career?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Aide To AG Luther Strange Might Be Using "Secret" To Derail Alabama Corruption Probe

Luther Strange and wife, Melissa in a campaign ad

The chief of staff to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is trying to derail a corruption probe of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, former Governor Bob Riley and his children, and more, according to a new report at the Alabama Political Reporter. 

Bill Britt reports that Chief of Staff Kevin Turner is leading an in-house plot to have chief prosecutor Matt Hart removed from the case. Turner, who used to be at the Bradley Arant law firm in Birmingham, is holding a secret over Strange's head as leverage to get Hart off the case, Britt reports.

A secret involving Luther Strange? What on earth could that be? Perhaps we will know shortly, but for now, we have this from Bill Britt:

Sources from both within and outside of the Attorney General’s Office have confirmed that Luther Strange’s Chief Deputy, Kevin Turner, is orchestrating a plot to remove chief prosecutor Matt Hart from the Lee Country Grand Jury investigation. In this latest effort, it is said that Turner has devised a plan whereby a “personnel compliant” has been lodged against Hart.

“He is trying to poison Hart’s relationship with Luther,” said one individual with knowledge of the inter-working of the Attorney General’s Office.

According to two individuals closely aligned with the AG’s office—who wish to remain nameless—the complaint against Hart has been filed with Charla G. Doucet, Chief of the Attorney General’s administrative division. This bogus complaint is the first step in an administrative process to have Hart reassigned or fired from his position as Chief of the white collar crimes division.

The latest internal coup against Hart is believed to be the result of political pressure from Hubbard, along with former Gov. Bob Riley.

Britt writes that Bob Riley is in full damage control over information that has led investigators to his children, Minda Riley Campbell and Rob Riley. Britt outlines Minda Riley Campbell's ties to Hubbard's business and political interests. Multiple reports have linked Rob Riley to Poarch Creek Indian gaming funds that were funneled to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). Even GOP insiders suggest that transaction was unlawful, and the case has made national news, with coverage from Bill Moyers. The brewing scandal also shows signs of derailing Republican Ed Gillespie's run for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, all because of Gillespie's strong ties to the RSLC and Indian gaming money.

As for the secret that Kevin Turner is holding over Luther Strange, here is what Britt writes about that:

Inside the Attorney General’s Office, the effort to sabotage the Grand Jury, by eliminating Hart, is thought to be the work of Strange’s closest ally, Turner.

The seemingly unbreakable bond between Strange and Turner is rumored to be based on more scandalous motives, and not mere loyalty. As Strange’s driver and body man during the 2010 campaign for AG, there is speculation that Turner holds a dirty secret over his boss' head. Whatever the reason may be for Strange’s particular loyalty to Turner, there are more than a few questions raised by Turner’s recent actions against Hart.

Hmmm, Kevin Turner's dirty secret apparently originated with Luther Strange's 2010 campaign for AG? Who was involved in that campaign, at the top level? What could the secret possibly be?

We seem to recall that the job of chief counsel and principal advisor to Strange originally was slated for someone else, but she was forced to step aside--and more or less the same job went to . . . Kevin Turner.

What's going on here? I would say Bill Britt is sniffing into a potentially explosive story.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Prominent Lawyer Calls For Maximum Sentence If U.S. Judge Mark Fuller Is Found Guilty Of Battery

What is one of the rarest sounds on earth? It's a lawyer speaking candidly about even the most corrupt of judges. Such is the grip that judges hold over lawyers--judges have the power to ruin legal careers--that you will almost never hear a lawyer admit that a judge ruled unlawfully in a particular case, and it almost had to be intentional.

Donald Watkins, however, is a different bird in the legal firmament. He has made so much money in various ventures that he apparently feels free to blister most anyone, including U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama).

Fuller faces a misdemeanor battery charge in the wake of an incident involving his wife at an Atlanta hotel room. If found guilty, Fuller could face up to a year in jail. And Watkins is calling for the judge, if convicted, to receive the maximum sentence. After all, Watkins states in an open letter released late last week, that is the kind of harsh punishment Fuller has handed down in his own courtroom for years. From the Watkins letter:

"Fuller has earned a reputation as a hardcore 'law and order' judge for the harsh sentences he imposes in criminal cases. He is a firm believer in handing down maximum sentences in criminal cases," Watkins wrote.

"... If Fuller is found guilty, we request that the Court sentence him to the maximum one-year jail time allowed under Georgia law for a misdemeanor. As I mentioned earlier, Judge Fuller believes in handing down maximum criminal sentences. I am sure he would want nothing less in his own case."

With that, Watkins was just getting warmed up. Other key points from the letter:

In the letter, Watkins said:

• Fuller does not give defendants a fair trial in his courtroom "We are asking that you give Fuller something he never affords criminal defendants in his courtroom — a fair trial, the letter says.

• That he expects others to attempt to improperly affect the verdict. "Expect his friends in the judiciary to attempt to influence the outcome of his case," Watkins writes.

• And that the judge is biased against women and people of color: "Defendant Fuller is used to receiving special treatment in Alabama. He is part of the oligarchy of white men who run the State of Alabama. Fuller has absolutely no respect for women (or people of color)."

Watkins not only blasts Fuller, he questions the integrity of the judiciary at large. I never thought I would live to see the day when a lawyer would lay it on the line like that about judges. But then, Donald Watkins long has been known for pulling surprises.

Nice to see he has not lost his touch.

Could Judge Mark Fuller Face Impeachment For Making False Statements To Police In Assault Case?

Mark Fuller
Evidence made public so far strongly suggests that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama) lied to police officers about his actions in an alleged domestic assault against his wife at an Atlanta hotel room. Now, a judicial-ethics expert says judges can be impeached if found guilty of making false statements.

Russell E. Carparelli, executive director of the American Judicature Society at Vanderbilt University, told the Associated Press that Fuller will continue to be paid while the U.S. 11th Circuit investigates the incident. Carparelli then spelled out the usual disciplinary process for a federal judge:

The federal judicial code of conduct says a judge "should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved."

The code doesn't spell out disciplinary actions in cases where a judge is arrested on misdemeanor charges.

Following an investigation and review by the circuit judicial council, he said, a judge found to have violated judicial conduct rules could be reprimanded or censured or asked to retire. Ultimately, a circuit could recommend the impeachment of a judge who refuses to quit.

Impeachment is generally reserved for judges who make false statements, take bribes or do other things to corrupt the judiciary, not those involved in domestic altercations, Carparelli said.

"Typically this type of thing would not go there," he said.
Is Carparelli contradicting himself? Yes. Is he trying to protect Fuller? Probably. Is he not familiar with all of the facts made public about the case? Our guess is that he probably is not.

News reports have stated that Fuller told police he "just pushed" his wife and was acting only to defend himself. But a recording of Kelli Gregg Fuller's 911 call seems to tell a different story. On the call, Kelli Fuller can be heard telling emergency dispatchers that she was being beaten and needed an ambulance. That indicates Mark Fuller did more than just defend himself. The tape suggests he was beating his wife, and it sounds like that's what is going on in the background of the 911 call. Kelli Fuller's injuries, as described in press reports (cuts on her mouth and forehead) indicate she had been struck.

In his overall statement to AP, Russell Carparelli seems to be downplaying Fuller's actions, writing it off as a mere "domestic altercation." But in Carparelli's own words, making false statements can cost a federal judge his job. And Mark Fuller appears to have made false statements to police, which can be a felony under Georgia law.

Will the 11th circuit take Fuller's actions seriously or try to sweep them under the judicial carpet?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Could Federal Judge Face A Felony Charge Because Of Statements To Police About Assault On His Wife?

Mark Fuller

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama) saw his cases removed yesterday. But that might soon be the least of Fuller's worries in the wake of charges that he assaulted his wife in an Atlanta hotel room.

Evidence made public so far strongly suggests that Fuller lied to law-enforcement officers who responded to a call about a disturbance at the Ritz Carlton on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta. Our research shows that making false statements to a police officer can be a felony in Georgia.

On top of that, a prominent Alabama attorney and whistleblower is calling on the Obama administration to use the Fuller case as an example in its campaign for zero tolerance in domestic-violence cases. Dana Jill Simpson, who has a law practice in Rainsville, Alabama, testified before Congress about the apparent political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman--a case over which Fuller presided. In an article at OpEd News earlier this week, Simpson calls on the White House to make an example of Fuller. From the Simpson article:

Every October President Obama and Vice President Biden speak out against domestic violence and proclaim that they stand for "zero tolerance" regarding this crime. Their speeches often feature the statistic that one in three women in America are impacted by domestic violence. VP Biden, in his first year in office, announced long-time advocate Lynn Rosenthal would be the White House advisor on violence against women, a newly created position because, Biden claimed, his office and the President genuinely believe in zero tolerance for domestic violence. President Obama called on executive heads of federal agencies in 2012 to create policies against domestic violence in their workplaces. In the following years President Obama has signed further laws to protect women who are victims of domestic violence.

This October President Obama and Vice President Biden will be faced with a challenge to the seriousness of their commitment to zero tolerance for domestic violence. They are now confronted by a sitting federal judge in Alabama named Mark Fuller who has been arrested for battery against his wife in the "ritzy" Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta Georgia. Fuller has been quoted in the press on the day of his release stating that he "just pushed" his wife (Kelli Gregg Fuller) to the ground and was defending himself from an attack by her, triggered by her concerns over his possible infidelity.

On a recording of Kelli Fuller's 911 call, she can be heard telling emergency dispatchers that she was being beaten and needed an ambulance. That indicates Mark Fuller did more than just defend himself. The tape suggests he was beating his wife, and it sounds like that's what is going on in the background of the 911 call.

How do we know that Fuller could face a felony for making a false statement to police? Consider the case of a Cherokee, Georgia, school-board member named Kelly Marlow. From an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about the Marlow case:

The Cherokee Tribune reports Cherokee school board member Kelly Marlow was found guilty tonight of the felony charge of making false statements to police about school chief Frank Petruzielo to police. Under Georgia law, that felony conviction means Marlow will immediately be suspended from her elected post as a school board member.

A jury also found her political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles guilty of lying to police.

The trio was indicted in October after they had charged that Petruzielo tried to run them down with his car after a school board meeting last June. They were charged with lying to the Canton Police Department.

Three public officials faced felony charges for lying to police? Should Mark Fuller face the same fate?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Confrontation About Extramarital Affair With Law Clerk Sparked Assault Charges Against Alabama U.S. Judge Mark Fuller

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller
An alleged assault at an Atlanta Hotel began after the wife of U.S. Judge Mark Fuller (Middle District of Alabama) accused him of having an extramarital affair with his law clerk, according to a report at the Web site

The incident happened at the Ritz Carlton on Peachtree Street. Mark Fuller was charged with battery, and cites an Atlanta Police Department report that indicates alcohol was a factor:

According to the report released by APD, the judge’s wife answered the door in tears. She had cuts on her mouth and forehead.

“Immediately upon entering the room, there was a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the room,” the officer noted.

He found Fuller lying in bed. There was broken glass next to the night stand and strands of hair on the floor next to the bed. Fuller’s wife told police officers that the assault followed an argument about “issues in their marriage.” The wife explained that she accused Fuller of having an affair with his law clerk. She said Fuller pulled her hair, threw her to the ground and kicked her. She told police that Fuller dragged her around the room and struck her in the mouth several times with his hands.

When police asked Fuller how his wife got her injuries, he told them that his wife attacked him after their argument about marital infidelity. He told officers he was in bed watching CNN and she came into the room making accusations. Fuller said his wife threw a glass at him. Fuller said he grabbed his wife’s hair “to defend himself.”

“When asked about the lacerations on her mouth, Mr. Fuller stated that he just threw her to the ground and that was it,” the report says.

Police later discovered blood in the bathroom on the tub. Fuller did not have any marks or bruises, the officer noted. After medical personnel arrived, they noted additional bruises on his wife’s legs.

Fuller faced allegations of domestic abuse, extramarital affairs, and substance abuse during a 2012 divorce from his first wife, Lisa Boyd Fuller.

Fuller was granted bond on the new charges at an arraignment this morning in Atlanta.

Alabama Federal Judge Who Was Charged With Assaulting Wife Has Faced Charges Of Domestic Abuse In The Past

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:

Extramarital Affairs

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.

Domestic Abuse

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.

Drug addiction

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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Will Mike Hubbard and Bob Riley Be Indicted In Indian Gaming Probe--And Where Is Rob Riley's Name In The Lee County Investigation?

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard and former Governor Bob Riley are expected to be indicted by a Lee County grand jury for their alleged roles in a scheme to funnel Indian gaming money to an organization designed to fight legalized private gaming in Alabama, a source tells Legal Schnauzer.

That raises many intriguing questions, including this one: Where is Rob Riley's name in the equation? All of the original reports about the $100,000 transfer from the Poarch Creek Indians to Citizens for a Better Alabama mentioned the former governor's son prominently.

Bill Britt, publisher of the Alabama Political Reporter, has led the way on coverage of the Lee County investigation. But his article in today's issue makes no mention of Rob Riley's role in the questionable transaction. A memo on the deal, which leaked, also appears to make no mention of Rob Riley.

That is odd because an October 2012 Montgomery Advertiser article, which broke the story, had Rob Riley's name front and center.

This is from an October 23, 2012, Legal Schnauzer post titled "Rob Riley Helped Funnel Indian Gambling Money To Organization That Opposed Non-Indian Gaming."

The son of former Governor Bob Riley was the middle man in a transaction that funneled Indian gambling money toward a campaign to fight non-Indian gaming facilities in Alabama, according to a report yesterday in the Montgomery Advertiser.
Rob Riley, a Homewood attorney, received notification from the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) that it had contributed $100,000 to Citizens for a Better Alabama on June 10, 2010. Records show that the RSLC received a $100,000 check that same day from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

This is from an article we posted the next day, based on information from public records and published reports:

Prominent Alabama Republicans this week said they did not know that funds used to fight non-Indian gaming in the state came from Indian gambling sources. A check of public records shows the Republicans almost certainly were lying.

A $100,000 check that went to an Alabama anti-gambling organization in 2010 originated with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and was funneled through the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), according to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser. The same article showed that Indian gambling money, via the RSLC, played a prominent role in the Republican takeover of the Alabama Legislature in 2010.

Three key Republicans connected to the story--Homewood attorney Rob Riley, conservative lawyer and activist A. Eric Johnston, and House Speaker Mike Hubbard--said they had no idea the RSLC took money from gambling sources. But a simple check of public documents on the Web shows the GOP trio either was lying or was stunningly out of touch.

The Alabama denials are even more hard to swallow in light of recent reports that two Las Vegas casino moguls--Steve Wynn, of Wynn Resorts, and Sherman Adelson, of the Las Vegas Sands, gave more than $625,000 to the RSLC in recent months. Another report shows that Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, of Las Vegas, has given $165,299 to the RSLC.

How unbelievable were the statements from Rob Riley, Eric Johnston, and Mike Hubbard? We spelled that out, again citing public records:

We are supposed to believe that Riley, Johnston, and Hubbard were utterly in the dark about RSLC's ties to gaming? It's not a new development, by the way.

Records at show that RSLC received $15,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 2003, followed by a $25,000 donation in 2005. Jack Abramoff, a former GOP lobbyist and now confessed felon, represented the Choctaws at the time. In 2006, the RSLC received $100,000 from Harrah's Casino Hotels.

We learned about this after a Web search lasting about five minutes. But Riley, Johnston, and Hubbard are not capable of learning about RSLC's ties to gaming that go back roughly 10 years? These guys can't afford Internet service?

The RSLC was founded in 2002, and we know it took gaming money in 2003. That means RSLC's roots have been fertilized with gambling cash pretty much from the outset. But GOP insiders in Alabama don't know that?

Again, why has Rob Riley's name been left out of recent reports when original articles showed he was in the middle of a smelly deal that sent Indian gambling money to an organization that vowed to fight non-Indian gambling?

Alabamians, and all citizens who care about honest government, should be asking that question? They also should be asking this question: Where in the world is the Obama Justice Department, when this case appears to involve serious federal issues?