U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller "will not qualify for either a judicial salary or be eligible for a judicial pension," according to a statement just released by the bi-partisan leaders of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. His resignation from the federal bench "in shame", as the statement describes Fuller's stated intention to step down as of August 1, will disqualify him from any further payment for his role on the federal judiciary.
In their statement, posted in full below, committee chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) make clear that they were prepared to consider impeachment of the federal judge, prior to the resignation letter he tendered to the President over the weekend.
Fuller, a 2002 George W. Bush-appointee to the federal bench in Alabama's Middle District, was arrested last August on charges of beating his wife at a hotel room in Atlanta. Prior to that, he had been most well known for overseeing the controversial trial of Alabama's former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman.
"It is a rare occasion when the U.S. Congress impeaches a federal judge and removes the accused from the bench, but it is a necessary tool to protect the integrity of our judicial system," the two high-ranking Congressmen say in their joint statement. "However, the House Judiciary Committee was prepared to initiate impeachment proceedings against Judge Fuller pending the recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and the Committee strongly encouraged the courts to expedite the investigation into Judge Fuller's misconduct."
On Monday, as we reported in detail, following a nearly 10-month probe of the incidents surrounding the disgraced Judge's arrest in 2014, the 11th Circuit Court's Judicial Conference issued an order [PDF] stating that the matter "might constitute one or more grounds for impeachment."
Unless he had voluntary stepped down, impeachment would have been the only way to remove Fuller from his lifetime appointment to the bench, despite the charges of domestic abuse. Judge Fuller submitted his resignation to the President late last week in advance of the publication of the Judicial Conference's order, but questions had remained about whether he had struck a deal that would allow him to accept a retirement pension after stepping down from his $200,000/year job.
According today's statement from Goodlatte and Conyers, so long as he leaves by August 1, he will not receive any compensation from the federal government thereafter...
"Once it became clear that the 11th Circuit would issue an order that Judge Fuller's conduct could constitute grounds for impeachment, Judge Fuller decided to resign in shame," the Congressmen said today. "Once his resignation becomes effective, Fuller will not qualify for either a judicial salary or be eligible for a judicial pension. If Judge Fuller does not resign on August 1st, as stated in his resignation letter, the House Judiciary Committee will consider whether impeachment is warranted once the Judicial Conference issues its final report."
Fuller, who has had his caseload re-assigned to other judges since his arrest last year, has collected some $170,000 in taxpayer provided salary during that time, even while trying no cases and defending himself in his own. He will be paid another $30,000 or so in salary before finally stepping down on August 1, barring any changes to his current trajectory.
"Justice was not served here," said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) in a statement over the weekend in response to the news of Fuller's intention to resign. While noting the "consolation" that Fuller has "chosen to spare his family and our nation of the expense of a drawn out impeachment process," she decried his failure "to uphold our most fundamental values."
Sewell, the only Democrat in the Alabama Congressional contingent had long called for the U.S. House to open an investigation into possible impeachment of the federal judge.
Becky Bond, Political Director at CREDO action, one of the groups who had filed a complaint with the 11th Circuit Court against Judge Fuller following his arrest last year, tells The BRAD BLOG that "A federal judge who beats his wife shouldn't get a free pass."
Her organization collected some 135,000 signatures seeking impeachment of Fuller. "Our culture is far too permissive when it comes to men who beat their wives," she said. "The federal courts did the right thing, and we're glad that Congress was ready to act, but it is still disappointing that Judge Fuller has continued to collect his taxpayer-funded $200,000 salary while these proceedings played out, and that he will continue to be paid for the next two months, since his resignation will not happen until August 1st."
The complete 6/2/2015 statement from the Republican and Democratic heads of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee follows below. After that, a portion of the 911 call from Judge Fuller's wife as she says he was "beating on" her, and then a complete index of The BRAD BLOG's most noteworthy stories and exclusives on this matter, going back to August of 2014...
June 2, 2015
WASHINGTON - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) issued the following statement on the resignation of Middle District of Alabama Judge Mark Fuller, who was arrested in August 2014 for physically assaulting his wife in a hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia, a violation of state criminal law.
"It is a rare occasion when the U.S. Congress impeaches a federal judge and removes the accused from the bench, but it is a necessary tool to protect the integrity of our judicial system.
"However, the House Judiciary Committee was prepared to initiate impeachment proceedings against Judge Fuller pending the recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and the Committee strongly encouraged the courts to expedite the investigation into Judge Fuller's misconduct.
"Once it became clear that the 11th Circuit would issue an order that Judge Fuller's conduct could constitute grounds for impeachment, Judge Fuller decided to resign in shame. Once his resignation becomes effective, Fuller will not qualify for either a judicial salary or be eligible for a judicial pension. If Judge Fuller does not resign on August 1st, as stated in his resignation letter, the House Judiciary Committee will consider whether impeachment is warranted once the Judicial Conference issues its final report."
Background: The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power and responsibility to impeach federal judges and the Senate the power to remove the accused from office after a fair and impartial hearing.
In December 2014, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers sent a letter to Chief Judge Ed Carnes and Judge Gerald Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit regarding the status of the investigation of Judge Fuller and the anticipated timeline for completion of the required comprehensive written report to the Circuit's Judicial Council.
The Judicial Council of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit has now concluded their investigation and issued an order that found Judge Fuller's conduct 'might constitute one or more grounds for impeachment under article II of the Constitution.' This recommendation has been sent to the Judicial Conference of the United States which makes the final recommendation to Congress.
UPDATE 9/21/2015: U.S. Judicial Conference sends its final report to the U.S. House after year-long probe. Finds Fuller abused his second wife Kelli "at least eight times" before and after their marriage and perjured himself before special investigation committee. Details contradict claims previously given to The BRAD BLOG by Fuller's attorney. Impeachment recommended for the already-resigned federal judge. Full details now here...
Earlier related stories at The BRAD BLOG:
• 8/11/2014: "Federal Judge in Don Siegelman Case Arrested, Charged with Abusing Wife in Atlanta Hotel"
• 8/25/2014: "Federal Judge Who Was Arrested for Beating His Wife (and Who Sentenced Don Siegelman) Is Now Hoping to Avoid Prosecution Altogether"
• 9/5/2014: "BREAKING: Federal Judge Who Presided Over Siegelman Case and Who Recently Beat His Own Wife Bloody Strikes Deal to Avoid Prosecution"
• 9/10/2014: "NFL's Ray Rice Loses Job for Knocking Out Wife, Federal Judge Mark Fuller Keeps Lifetime Appointment After Beating Wife Bloody"
• 9/15/2014: "Republican Senior Federal Judge, Domestic Abuse Experts Call for Accountability for Wife-Beating U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller"
• 9/15/2014: "Wife-Beating Federal Judge Mark Fuller Finally Mentioned on MSNBC [VIDEO]"
• 9/17/2014:"Chris Hayes Plays Horrifying 911 Call From Federal Judge Mark Fuller's Wife; Sounds of Her Apparently Being Struck Can Be Clearly Heard"
• 9/19/2014:"'A Matter of Time': U.S. Senators, Representatives Finally Call for Some Accountability for Wife-Beating Federal Judge Mark Fuller"
• 9/23/2014:"Washington Post Finally Calls for Investigation, Impeachment of Wife-Beating Federal Judge"
• 10/17/2014:"Attorney For Judge Mark Fuller Says Wife Beating Incident No Big Deal; Chilling 911 AUDIO and Former AL Gov. Siegelman Suggest Otherwise"
• 10/20/2014:"Congresswoman Declares Impeachment Deadline for Wife-Beating Federal Judge; Court Unseals Divorce Docs From Fuller's Previous Marriage"
• 12/3/2014:"U.S. House Judiciary Committee Cites Potential Impeachment of Wife-Beating Federal Judge"
• 2/16/2015: "U.S. House Judiciary Committee Increases Budget For Possible Impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller"
• 3/16/2015: "Exclusive: Complete 911 Audio At Odds With New 'Self-Defense' Claim by U.S. Judge Mark Fuller's Attorney in 2014 Domestic Battery Incident"
• 3/30/2015: "EXCLUSIVE: Judge Mark Fuller's Attorney Says 'Drunk' Wife Kelli Faked Being Beaten on 911 Call"
• 4/20/2015: "Updates in Judge Mark Fuller 'Wife Beating' Case: Criminal charges dismissed as expected; More testimony heard by 11th Circuit panel"
• 6/1/2015: "COURT FINDS 'GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT' OF 'WIFE-BEATING' FEDERAL JUDGE MARK FULLER"