Judge accused of Atlanta hotel assault on wife regrets ‘incident’

A federal judge from Alabama said he regrets that details of last month’s domestic dispute with his wife will not come out in court, but he agreed to enroll in programs that address domestic violence and substance abuse because that will mean an Atlanta misdemeanor charge will be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who presides in the Middle District of Alabama, on Friday agreed to the terms of a pre-trial diversion offer when he appeared before a Fulton County magistrate. If he completes the two programs, a battery charge that was brought after his wife called police to their room at The Ritz-Carlton will be dropped.

“I reached this difficult decision after consulting with my family, and deciding that it was in everyone’s best interests to put this incident behind us,” Fuller said in a statement released by one of his attorneys. “While I regret that my decision means that the full and complete facts regarding this incident will likely not come out, I have no doubt that it is what is best for all involved.”

Fulton County Chief Magistrate Stephanie Davis set an Oct. 14 court date for Fuller to provide proof he had received alcohol and drug treatment and enrolled in a 24-week program for those accused of domestic violence. It is then that the charge from an Aug. 9 incident at The Ritz-Carlton will be dropped. He also cannot have any “violent contact” with his wife, Davis said during the Friday court hearing.

“This incident has been very embarrassing to me, my family, friends and the court,” said Fuller, 55, who has presided in the federal court in the Northern District of Alabama since President George W. Bush appointed him in 2002. “I deeply regret this incident and look forward to working to resolve these difficulties with my family, where they should be resolved.”

Last month, Fuller’s wife called 911 to report he was beating her, police said. Moments later, an Atlanta police officer knocked on the Fullers’ hotel room door.

According to a police report, the judge’s wife had lacerations to her mouth and forehead and she said her husband had thrown her to the ground, pulled her hair and kicked her after she confronted him over an alleged affair her husband was having with a law clerk. Fuller’s wife told police that he dragged her around the room “and hit her several times in the mouth with his hands.”

Fuller told police his wife threw a glass at him and that he was defending himself. “When asked about the lacerations to her mouth, Mr. Fuller stated that he just threw her to the ground and that was it,” the report stated.

Fuller had no visible injuries, according to the report.

According to a transcript of the 911 phone call, Fuller’s wife pleaded for help.

“He’s beating on me,” she told a dispatcher before requesting an ambulance. “Please help me.”

Fuller was arrested and held in jail until Aug. 11, when he posted a $5,000 bond on a single misdemeanor battery charge, which carries a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Since then, the judge has kept a low profile.

Two days after he was released from jail, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — which handles cases from Alabama, Georgia and Florida — reassigned Fuller’s cases to other federal judges in the Montgomery-based court. Fuller also has not been given any new cases.

Then, the Montgomery-based judge entered a treatment program, according to his attorney.

“I look forward to completing the family counseling that I voluntarily began several weeks ago and to successfully completing the requirements of the diversion,” Fuller said.

Once that is completed, he said he hopes to return to the bench.

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