"Impeachment of former United States District Judge Mark E. Fuller [Middle District, Alabama] may be warranted," according to the Special Committee to the Judicial Council of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court.
While Fuller has already resigned from his lifetime appointment in the wake of his wife-beating scandal, the panel of federal judges found "the severity of the misconduct" by the former jurist so "reprehensible", they believe impeachment may be appropriate nonetheless.
"In the event that the House of Representatives determines in its sound discretion that impeachment is not warranted, this certification may also serve as a public censure of Judge Fuller's reprehensible conduct, which has no doubt brought disrepute to the Judiciary and cannot constitute the 'good behavior' required of a federal judge," U.S. Judicial Conference Secretary James C. Duff wrote in his letter [PDF] to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, accompanying the final report of the Special Committee.
As the panel of federal judges tasked by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court with investigating the 2014 arrest of Alabama's U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller on spousal abuse charges proceeded over the past year, his Birmingham attorney, Barry Ragsdale, was adamant about his client's innocence.
Fuller "never hit, punched, slapped or kicked," his wife Kelli on the night he was hauled away by police from the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta following her chilling call to 911, Ragsdale repeated over and over to any media outlet which would listen.
Judge Fuller made similar "repeated statements under oath before the Special Committee," according to Duff. The Committee found those assertions to be "false."
As we suspected over the past year --- and as both 911 evidence and evidence from the divorce proceedings in Judge Fuller's previous marriage suggested as well --- Ragsdale's assertions on behalf of his client were completely untrue. At least according to the final report issued by that panel of judicial investigators last week.
In an email exchange with The BRAD BLOG earlier this year, Ragsdale even went so far as to describe our detailed coverage of the Fuller affair [see complete index below] as "sensationalized and misleading". He suggested that Fuller's second wife Kelli --- who, during that chilling call to 911, tearily begged for an ambulance, as apparent sounds of battering could be heard through the phone --- had made the entire thing up. Ragsdale claimed she admitted as much under oath during the probe by the judges impaneled to investigate the matter.
"Your blog entries on this case suffer from the very glaring misapprehension that Kelli Fuller was telling the truth when she claimed that Judge Fuller was 'beating on me' to the 911 dispatcher," Ragsdale told The BRAD BLOG via email last March. "The only thing that is clear from the 911 call is that Kelli Fuller was drunk when she made the call."
The Birhimgham attorney asserted that he had "a very decided advantage" over us "when discussing the facts of this matter," due to the fact that he had heard "the sworn testimony of all of the witnesses with knowledge about this case, and I have examined and cross-examined them under oath."
"The truth," Ragsdale continued in one part of his email that we declined to report publicly at the time, "is that even Kelli Fuller has admitted under oath that the 'slap' sounds that you think you hear on the 911 tape were not caused by Judge Fuller hitting her. Instead, Kelli Fuller has admitted under oath that the brief physical altercation between her and Judge Fuller was over before she ever called 911."
He claimed that it was Kelli Fuller who, in fact, "assault[ed]" and "attack[ed]" the judge, who was otherwise lying on the bed, minding his own business while watching TV.
Ragsdale's description of events at the Ritz-Carlton that night appear to be in stark contradiction to the report submitted by the panel of federal judges. They assert that Judge Fuller's behavior towards his wife was far worse than we had reported and included "at least" eight different instances of spousal abuse between Fuller and his second wife Kelli, "both before and after they were married, which included and culminated in the assault that took place on August 9, 2014, in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, George," according to Duff's description of the Judicial Conference report.
While we reported some of Ragsdale's comments at the time, we declined to report both his characterization of Kelli Fuller's sworn testimony before the panel of judges, as well as his characterization of the sworn testimony by Fuller's first wife Lisa. In both cases, the testimony had been confidential at the time and it was impossible for us to verify what had or hadn't been said. We had only Ragsdale's word for it. Moreover, as his previous public assertions were often in apparent contradiction from known evidence --- and he was unwilling or unable to offer evidence to back up his assertions about the sworn, confidential testimony and other supposed evidence that he claimed to have access to --- it seemed irresponsible to uncritically publish hearsay and unverifiable claims that he was clearly offering us in hopes of exonerating his own client in the "court of public opinion".
The 11th Circuit Court's Judicial Council report, forwarded to the U.S. Judiciary Council and then to the U.S. House of Representatives last week, as AP notes, paints a very different picture of that probe, declaring that, in fact, Judge Fuller was a serial domestic abuser, whose conduct was nothing short of "reprehensible"...