Mark Fuller

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For other people named Mark Fuller, see Mark Fuller (disambiguation).
Mark Everett Fuller
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
In office
2004–2011
Preceded by William Harold Albritton III
Succeeded by William Keith Watkins
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
In office
November 26, 2002 – August 1, 2015
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by Ira De Ment
Personal details
Born Mark Everett Fuller
1958 (age 58–59)
Enterprise, Alabama
Spouse(s) Lisa Boyd Fuller (?-2012)
Kelli Fuller (2012-present)
Education University of Alabama B.S.
University of Alabama School of Law J.D.

Mark Everett Fuller (born 1958 in Enterprise, Alabama) is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Fuller is most recognizable for presiding over the controversial case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.[1] On August 1, 2015 Fuller resigned following a federal court investigation into allegations about spousal abuse.[2]

Education and career[edit]

He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama in 1982 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1985.[3] He was an attorney in private practice from 1985 to 1996, when he became Chief Assistant District Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit of Alabama.[3]

In 1996, he was elected District Attorney of the 12th Circuit where he served until his appointment as a federal judge.[3] As the District Attorney, Fuller was criticized for giving "extraordinary wages" to staff, including increasing office investigator Bruce DeVane's "salary to almost $6,000 every two weeks" until it nearly doubled by the end of 2000, and Fuller later testified during the proceedings about the retirements he approved in 2005.[4]

On August 1, 2002, he was nominated by George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate on November 14, 2002. He received his commission on November 26, 2002.[5]

U.S. v. Siegelman[edit]

In 2004, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was charged with Medicaid fraud, but the day after his trial began, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges and judge U. W. Clemon threw out much of the prosecution's evidence and stated that no new charges could be refiled based on the disallowed evidence.[6]

In 2006, Siegelman was charged again and Judge Fuller presided over the criminal trial for bribery and obstruction of justice. After a highly publicized trial that spanned several months, a jury convicted former Governor Siegelman and co-Defendant Richard Scrushy, founder and former CEO of HealthSouth, of federal funds bribery relating to Governor Siegelman's failed Alabama education lottery campaign. Prosecutors alleged that Scrushy, who supported Siegelman's 1998 gubernatorial opponent, Governor Fob James, reconciled their differences. Siegelman initially resisted, but later agreed to meet with Scrushy. According to trial testimony from a Siegelman aide, Nick Bailey, after the meeting ended Siegelman emerged with a $250,000 check and told Bailey that Scrushy "was halfway there." When Bailey asked Siegelman what Scrushy wanted for the contribution, Siegelman allegedly said, "the C-O-N Board." However, Bailey's statement was incorrect as evidence showed there was no meeting with Siegelman.[7]

The jury was deadlocked twice.[8] Fuller then told the jury they had the potential for “a lifetime job for you as a juror,” noting that he had “a lifetime appointment” and was “a very patient person," and the jury convicted the following day.[9] At his first sentencing hearing, Fuller sentenced him to 88 months. Siegelman defenders argue that the sentence is unprecedented and the punishment excessive because, for example, former Alabama Governor H. Guy Hunt, a Republican, was found guilty of personally pocketing $200,000 and did not receive jail time.[10]

Siegelman appealed and on March 6, 2009, the Eleventh Circuit upheld key bribery, conspiracy and obstruction counts against Siegelman and refused his request for a new trial, finding no evidence that the conviction was unjust, but struck two of the seven charges on which Siegelman was convicted and ordered a new sentencing hearing.[11] It affirmed Judge Hinkle's decision (Judge Fuller asked that a separate judge be assigned to handle the motion) that Judge Fuller need not recuse himself from the case. The Eleventh Circuit noted that recusal motions must be made before trial, but the Defense did not learn of Fuller's conflicts (see "Criticism" below) until after the trial had begun. It also upheld the jury instructions that Fuller gave to the jury prior to their deliberations.

In December 2009, Fuller then reduced Governor Siegelman's sentence by 10 months during re-sentencing,[12] leaving him with 69 months.[13]

Criticism[edit]

Fuller is accused of acting unethically.[14][15] Fuller was criticized over his sentencing of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, allegedly saying in private that he would "hang Don Siegelman."[16][17][18][19] He refused to allow the defense to present well-documented evidence of selective prosecution,[20] and critics suggest he facilitated the prosecutorial misconduct that occurred in the case.[21][22][23] Fuller was also criticized for refusing to allow Siegelman to remain free on appeal and the Appeals Court overruled Fuller's decision.[24] Siegelman argued that Fuller "gave the jury false instructions."[25] On October 23, 2007, in a statement to the House Judiciary Committee, the Alliance for Justice called for an investigation into Fuller's handling of the case.[26]

Scott Horton, a legal scholar, has written numerous articles about Fuller's multiple conflicts of interest in presiding over the Siegelman case in which Fuller refused to recuse himself from the case.[27][28][29] One such conflict was that Siegelman, when Governor, prompted an investigation into Fuller's "questionable [financial] practices" as District Attorney.[30] Fuller claimed that those allegations were "politically motivated",[31] but audits proved that Fuller engaged in unethical financial practices.[32][33] Siegelman supporters believe that Fuller held a grudge against Siegelman and would not recuse because he wanted Siegelman convicted, a feat accomplished with Fuller's expansive jury instructions and controversial dynamite charge.[34][35]

At Siegelman's sentencing, Fuller had Siegelman taken from the courtroom in handcuffs and leg manacles and sent immediately to prison.[36] 60 Minutes aired a report about the controversy during which Grant Woods, former Republican Attorney General of Arizona, commented, “That tells you that this was personal. You would not do that to a former governor.”[7] Siegelman, his family, and many others continue to maintain Siegelman's innocence.[37]

Battery, investigation, resignation and possible impeachment[edit]

On August 9, 2014, Fuller was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, for an incident of domestic violence involving his wife, Kelli, following her allegation that he was having an affair with a law-clerk employee.[38] Fuller was jailed overnight following his arrest.[38]

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reassigned cases in Fuller's court to other district court judges, and would not assign any new cases to Fuller until further order of the circuit court.[39][40] In September, he accepted a plea deal that would "expunge" the charges if he undergoes a drug and alcohol evaluation, completes a counseling program and attend a domestic violence program for 24 weeks.[41] Meanwhile, the Judicial Conference of the United States began looking into the accusations against Fuller.[42]

By September 2014, several state and national politicians called on Fuller to resign. Representative Terri Sewell publicly stated Fuller should resign, and other members of Alabama's Congressional delegation followed.[43] On September 17, 2014, Republican Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, called on Fuller to resign from the District Court.[44]

On October 17, 2014, Sewell "threatened to begin impeachment proceedings" against Fuller if he did not resign.[45]

On May 29, 2015, Fuller sent President Barack Obama a letter of resignation effective August 1, 2015.[2]

In September 2015, a committee of federal judges who investigated Fuller told Congress it should consider impeaching Fuller despite his resignation.[46] The committee explained Fuller engaged in "reprehensible conduct" as there was “substantial evidence” Fuller physically abused his wife "at least eight times" and Fuller "was also accused of committing perjury" when denying abusing his wife.[46] In addition, the report concluded Fuller made "false statements to the chief judge of the 11th Circuit in late December 2010 in a way that caused a massive disruption in the District Courts' operation and loss of public confidence in the court as an instrument of Justice."[47]

Personal life[edit]

Fuller has been married twice. In 2012, he divorced Lisa Boyd Fuller, and the court records were sealed with Mark citing the safety concerns and Lisa objecting, alleging Fuller "was guilty of marital misconduct and is attempting to shield himself from the public scrutiny thereof."[39][48] That same year he married Kelli Fuller, a former court bailiff with whom his ex-wife alleged Fuller had an affair.[49]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Federal judge Mark Fuller bonds out of jail following battery charge". WSFA. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Smith, Jada F. (29 May 2015). "Federal Judge to Quit Post; He Faced Abuse Charge" – via NYTimes.com. 
  3. ^ a b c Mark Fuller at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^ "RSA confident about case against DeVane". The Southeast Sun. January 30, 2005. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  5. ^ "Presidential Nomination: Fuller, Mark E.". White House. 2002. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  6. ^ "USATODAY.com - Case dropped against former Ala. governor". 
  7. ^ a b "The Prosecution of Siegelman", See 60 Minutes CBS television broadcast, Feb. 24, 2008).
  8. ^ "Siegelman jurors remain deadlocked - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL". 
  9. ^ See Trial Transcript at page 7857, U.S. v. Siegelman
  10. ^ "Alabama Governor Found Guilty Of Ethics Charges and Is Ousted" The New York Times, 4/23/93.
  11. ^ "Around the Nation". The Washington Post. March 7, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Don Siegelman returns to prison Tuesday". 
  13. ^ "Don Siegelman returns to prison Tuesday". Breaking News from The Birmingham News. September 10, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Fuller’s ethics called into question in suit" The Wetumpka Herald, 5/16/12.
  15. ^ "Sex, Drugs, And Violence Are At The Heart Of Divorce Case Against Siegelman Judge Mark Fuller" The Public Record, 5/22/12.
  16. ^ Horton, Scott (August 6, 2007). "The Pork Barrel World of Judge Mark Fuller". Harper's. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  17. ^ "Did Ex-Alabama Governor Get A Raw Deal?". CBS News. Feb 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  18. ^ "Chairman Conyers Releases Jill Simpson Transcript on the Prosecution of former Alabama Governor Siegelman". House Judiciary Committee. October 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  19. ^ "Selective Justice in Alabama?". Time magazine. October 4, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  20. ^ "Selective Justice in Alabama?" Time Magazine, 10/4/07.
  21. ^ "Questions About a Governor’s Fall" The New York Times, 6/30/07.
  22. ^ "More Allegations of Misconduct in Alabama Governor Case" Time Magazine, 11/14/08.
  23. ^ "The Partisan and the Judge" Harper's Magazine, 8/8/07.
  24. ^ "Freed Ex-Governor of Alabama Talks of Abuse of Power" New York Times March 29, 2008
  25. ^ "Siegelman Wants Alabama Republicans to Testify". WVTM-TV. April 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  26. ^ "Allegations of Selective Prosecution: The Erosion of Public Confidence in Our Federal Justice System" Alliance for Justice Statement (10/23/07).
  27. ^ "An Interview with Legal Ethicist David Luban Regarding Judge Mark Fuller" Harper's Magazine, 8/7/07.
  28. ^ "2003 Affidavit Raises More Serious Questions About Siegelman Judge" Harper's Magazine, 10/16/07.
  29. ^ "A Further Ethics Assessment on Judge Fuller and the Siegelman Case from Prof. Luban" Harper's Magazine, 10/22/07.
  30. ^ "McAliley earns DA appointment from Gov. Siegelman" The Southeast Sun, 12/25/02.
  31. ^ "New District Attorney Named" WTVY 4 News, 12/23/02.
  32. ^ "RSA denies extra retirement funds for Devane" The Southeast Sun, 12/11/02.
  33. ^ "RSA confident about case against DeVane" The Southeast Sun, 1/30/05.
  34. ^ See Ilissa B. Gold, "Explicit, Express, and Everything in Between: The Quid Pro Quo Requirement for Bribery and Hobbs Act Prosecutions in the 2000s" 36 WASH. U. J.L. & POL’Y 261, 280 (2011).
  35. ^ "Judge Fuller: A Siegelman Grudge Match?" Harper's Magazine, 8/2/07.
  36. ^ "When is a campaign donation a bribe? Supreme Court may decide: Scores of former state attorneys general urge the justices to hear the appeal of convicted former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman." Los Angeles Times, 6/2/12.
  37. ^ "Free-Don!". 
  38. ^ a b Eliott C. McLaughlin and John Branch, "[Federal judge jailed after alleged domestic dispute http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/11/justice/georgia-federal-judge-jailed/index.html]", CNN.com (August 12, 2014).
  39. ^ a b Brian Lyman, "[Judge Mark Fuller's cases reassigned after arrest http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2014/08/13/judge-mark-fullers-cases-reassigned-after-arrest/14003369/]", Montgomery Advertiser (August 13, 2014).
  40. ^ http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/courtdocs/general/Announcement.pdf
  41. ^ Federal judge Mark Fuller accepts plea deal in domestic violence case; could have arrest record expunged, September 5, 2014
  42. ^ "11th Circuit Court panel hears more testimony on complaint against federal judge Mark Fuller". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  43. ^ "Federal Judge Mark Fuller: A timeline of the domestic violence case". The Huntsville Times. September 19, 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-19. 
  44. ^ Mary Orndroff Troyan and Brian Lyman, "Senators Shelby, Sessions want Mark Fuller to resign", Montgomery Advertiser (September 18, 2014).
  45. ^ Rep. Terri Sewell warns judge of impeachment, October 17, 2014
  46. ^ a b Blinder, Alan (2015-09-18). "Mark Fuller, Former Federal District Court Judge, Could Be Impeached". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  47. ^ "Report: Fuller physically abused woman 8 times, lied under oath". Retrieved 2015-09-21. 
  48. ^ Rhonda Cook, "Atlanta court hearing set for federal judge charged with beating wife" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (September 4, 2014).
  49. ^ U.S. Federal Judge arrested on battery charge for allegedly beating his wife Daily News, August 12, 2014

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Ira De Ment
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
2002–2015
Vacant