Alcohol and accusations of infidelity set off an argument that resulted in a federal judge being arrested and jailed on a charge of misdemeanor domestic violence, according to a police report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, visiting from his Montomery, Ala. base, was released Monday afternoon on a $5,000 signature bond from the Fulton County Jail where he had been held since police were called to his hotel room Saturday night.
Fuller is scheduled to appear before a Fulton State Court judge on Aug. 22. A misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail.
According to the police report, the judge’s wife answered the door to their room at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Atlanta in tears. It was a little before 11 p.m.
“There were visible lacerations to her mouth and forehead,” officer J. Lencrerot wrote in the report on the incident Saturday night. “Immediately upon entering the room there was a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage…. Mr. Fuller was laying down on the bed. There was a broken glass next to the night stand and strands of hair on the floor.”
His wife, Kelli Fuller, said they had been arguing about her suspicions her husband was having an affair with a law clerk on his staff.
“Mrs. Fuller stated (that) when she confronted him about their issues, he pulled her hair and threw her to the ground and kicked her.”
She also told the officer her husband dragged her around the room and hit her in the mouth several times, the report said.
Fuller told the officer his wife “became violent after confronting him about being unfaithful.” He said she threw a drinking glass at him while he was on the bed watching TV.
Fuller said he grabbed her hair to defend himself and she cut her mouth when he threw her to the ground. “And that was it,” the report said, quoting the 55-year-old judge.
Kelli Fuller’s 17-year-old son is named as a witness on the report. The teenager said he had heard the two arguing earlier in the evening as he passed their room to go exercise. “He also stated they had been drinking and this was not the first time an incident like this had occurred with his mom and step-father,” the report said.
The judge was booked into the jail several hours later, surrendering $1,555 in cash before he was outfitted with an inmate jumpsuit.
He was released a few hours after his first appearance before a magistrate at the jail. A public defender represented him for that hearing but he told the judge he would be hiring a local attorney.
No attorney had filed a notice by Tuesday that they would be representing the judge in the case.
The circumstances that led to the judge’s arrest in Atlanta are similar to allegations listed in court papers in his then-pending divorce to his previous wife. An Alabama newspaper reported the divorce case that was sealed in 2012 included allegations of domestic violence, drug abuse and an affair with a court bailiff.
Fuller, nominated to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush, has been a controversial figure in Alabama politics, especially in the regards to the 2006 trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Siegelman, a Democrat, was convicted of selling a seat on a hospital regulatory board to a healthcare executive for $500,000 in donations to fund a push to establish a state lottery.
Siegelman’s family members and supporters claim the former governor’s prosecution was politically motivated and that Fuller should have recused himself because of conflicts of interest.