Retired federal judge weighs in on Fuller charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — With all the publicity surrounding domestic abuse concerns facing NFL player Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and a Montgomery federal magistrate judge who was arrested in Atlanta, people are talking about whether the punishment fits the crime.

No one is above the law and there can be lifelong consequences for judges and athletes. WIAT 42 News spoke with retired federal Judge U.W. Clemon to talk about the standard judges are expected to uphold- and what can happen when they don’t. We also heard from domestic violence survivors about why these high profile cases may actually help victims suffering in silence.

The issue of domestic violence is taking center stage nationally- with video controversy centered on NFL Ravens player Ray Rice and the arrest of Montgomery based federal Magistrate Mark Fuller on domestic violence charges.

Rice has reportedly been banned from the NFL indefinitely after the release of the video.

Judge Fuller accepted a pre-trial diversion offer and is getting counseling, according to a statement issued through his attorney Barry Ragsdale.

In that statement Fuller said that he deeply regrets the situation, and that he hopes to return to the bench.

When questions arise about whether or not a federal judge should return to the bench, the answer ultimately comes down to Congress in many cases, according to retired Federal Judge U. W. Clemon.

“Under Section 1 of article 3 of the United States Constitution, a federal judge serves during good behavior. And most people assume that that is a lifetime appointment. But the constitutional standard is good behavior,” said Clemon.

“And if a judge’s behavior is something less than good behavior then Congress has the right to impeach that judge,” he continued.

“We have a standard that’s applicable to federal judges under the judicial code and there complaints can be filed against judges where their conduct outside the office undermines public confidence under the judiciary. And I assume that that process has been initiated in the 11th Circuit,” said Clemon.

“And most people assume that that is a lifetime appointment. But the constitutional standard is good behavior. And if a judge’s behavior is something less than good behavior then Congress has the right to impeach that judge. … ,” said U.W. Clemon, Retired Federal Judge.

“I don’t have to wear the robe of the judge to be very concerned at any serious or substantial allegation of spousal abuse. That is a condition which I think invites the attention of the public whether it’s on the part of a judge or a basketball player,” said Clemon. “If the conduct occurred, it is improper behavior.”

Kaleena Hill is a domestic abuse survivor who is getting her life back on track at The Lovelady Center in Birmingham. She says high profile domestic violence cases may be a source of encouragement to victims who are suffering in slience. Hill says hearing that they are not alone may inspire hope.

“I think it happens a lot more in a lot bigger places than people think it does and I think that it shows that it is happening everywhere. And I think it helps to see that an NFL player’s wife or spouse is going through that and it makes people think that it’s not just me and it’s not that I’m, something’s wrong with me,” said Kaleena Hill, The Lovelady Center.

The matter is under investigation by the Acting Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, according to Ragsdale. Ragsdale says Judge Fuller is cooperating fully with that investigation and is confident that the Court will reach a just and appropriate resolution of this matter.

Statement of Judge Mark E. Fuller:


Today, I accepted an offer of pre-trial diversion to resolve matters pending in the Atlanta Magistrate Court.  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. 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.

This incident has been very embarrassing to me, my family, friends and the court. I deeply regret this incident and look forward to working to resolve these difficulties with my family, where they should be resolved. As difficult as this situation is, I hope that you can respect the need to let my family heal as we move forward with addressing our private and personal family issues. I look forward to completing the family counseling that I voluntarily began several weeks ago and to successfully completing the requirements of the diversion.  I also look forward to addressing the concerns of the Court and hopefully returning to full, active status in the Middle District of Alabama. – Source: Barry Ragsdale, Attorney at Law


Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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