The federal appeals court based in Atlanta has reassigned cases pending before a federal judge from Alabama who was arrested in Atlanta on a domestic violence charge last weekend.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in an announcement posted on its website that U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller also would not be given any new cases while the misdemeanor charge is pending.
A federal judge is appointed for life and can be removed from the bench only after he is impeached and then tried by the U.S. Senate. But the appellate courts can take administrative steps to make a judge irrelevant — even temporarily — by taking away cases and limiting duties while he remains on the payroll.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — which handles cases in Georgia, Florida and Alabama — announced its action just two days after Fuller posted a $5,000 signature bond and was released from the Fulton County Jail. He was held there for 35 hours after police went to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in downtown Atlanta to investigate a domestic violence call placed to 911 Saturday night from the room registered to Fuller and his wife.
“Effective immediately all legal matters filed with Middle District of District of Alabama that are pending before Judge
Fuller will be reassigned to other judges in accordance with standard procedures for the assignment of cases. No new legal matters will be assigned to Judge Fuller until further notice,” the 11th Circuit posting said.
The notice specifically cited the misdemeanor charge pending in Fulton County State Court.
Fuller, based in Montgomery, Ala., is charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly striking his wife and pulling out her hair during an argument over her allegations that he had been unfaithful.
According to the tape of the 911 call obtained by The Associated Press, Fuller’s wife Kelli tells the 911 dispatcher “He’s beating on me. Please help me,” before saying that she needed an ambulance.
About a minute into the call, as the initial dispatcher patches an ambulance dispatcher into the call, the woman can be heard saying ‘I hate you, I hate you.” A male voice responds: “I hate you too” followed by dull noises in the background.
The woman’s voice can be heard loudly repeating: “Help me, please. Please help me. He’s beating on me.”
She was treated at the hotel by paramedics but refused to be taken to a hospital.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 22.
According to the police report, alcohol and accusations of infidelity set off the argument between Fuller and his wife that led to his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor battery, which carries a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail.
The officer wrote in the report “there was a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” in the room and he saw broken glass and strands of hair on the floor.
Kelli Fuller, who had cuts to her mouth and forehead, said they had been were arguing about whether her husband was having an affair with a member of his staff. She said he pulled her hair, threw her to the ground and kicked her.
Fuller said he was simply defending himself when his wife “became violent after confronting him about being unfaithful.”
The issues of fidelity and domestic violence raised by Fuller’s wife last weekend are similar to some raised by his previous wife during their pending divorce.
An Alabama newspaper reported in 2012 that records filed in that divorce included allegations of domestic violence, drug abuse and an affair with a court bailiff.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.