Arrested US judge embarrassed, entering treatment
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama federal judge charged with domestic violence following his arrest in Atlanta is embarrassed and entering a treatment program, one of his attorneys said Wednesday.
Barry Ragsdale is representing U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery in an administrative complaint filed by the chief judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said Fuller already has sought counseling and will check into a treatment program within days.
Fuller is seeking a program “that is best for his situation and circumstances,” Ragsdale said, but he declined to elaborate on the type Fuller is seeking.
“He’s embarrassed for this,” said Ragsdale, an old friend of Fuller from law school. “He’s embarrassed for his colleagues and his family.”
The 11th Circuit already has stripped Fuller of his cases and stopped sending him new ones. The judge isn’t at home in Montgomery, where his wife remains, Ragsdale said.
Atlanta police arrested the 55-year-old judge on Aug. 10 and charged him with misdemeanor battery after his wife called 911 from a hotel and said he was beating her. Mark Fuller told police his wife became violent as she confronted him with allegations of cheating.
Fuller was released from jail and is free on $5,000 bond. He was scheduled to appear in court on Friday in Atlanta but the hearing has been delayed until Sept. 5, records show.
Ragsdale said the delay was routine and not related to Fuller’s decision to seek help. The battery case could be resolved at the next hearing, Ragsdale said.
An Atlanta attorney is representing Fuller in the criminal case.
U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald Tjoflat, acting as the chief judge of the 11th Circuit, sent Fuller a complaint following his arrest to begin the judicial discipline process outlined under federal law, Ragsdale said.
While federal judges serve lifetime appointments and can be removed only through impeachment, legal experts say they also are subject to administrative procedures that can result in censure, reprimands or a request for their resignation.
Fuller has three weeks to respond to the complaint by Tjoflat.
“The complaint essentially recites the press reports,” said Ragsdale. “It basically says, ‘Explain yourself.’”
Federal law doesn’t have a provision for the suspension of judges, and Fuller is still receiving his annual salary of $199,100 while not hearing cases.
James P. Gerstenlauer, chief executive of the 11th Circuit, said federal law states that judges’ pay cannot be cut as long as they are in office.
Appointed by former President George W. Bush, Fuller is best known for presiding over the public corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, who were both convicted in 2006 and went to prison.