A decade ago, Alabama's pension officials accused Fuller of trying to bilk the system out of $330,000 by his advocacy of unmerited pension benefits for a former staffer.
Yet Alabama's two Republican senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, pushed Fuller forward for a lifetime appointment, which Fuller received from voice vote by the United States Senate with no serious discussion of his past.
Fuller and his court staff were able to hide from public view a 180-page impeachment filing against him in 2003 with no apparent attempt at investigation. In 2006, he presided over one of the nation's most sinister political prosecutions in modern times. The defense did not know that the judge was also being enriched via a military contracting company, Doss Aviation, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid Bush contracts.
A corrupt federal judge is in position to create vast harm in both civil and criminal cases, especially when he controls the court administrative system, as Fuller did during a seven-year term from 2004 to 2011 as chief judge for Alabama's most important federal district. This is the middle district surrounding the capital city of Montgomery.
Let's start with this week's disclosures and then get to the implications.
Montgomery Independent Publisher and Editor Bob Martin published a front-page news story quoting divorce papers filed April 10 by Lisa Boyd Fuller, the judge's estranged wife of three decades. Her papers strongly suggested adultery. Her interrogatories asked about drug use. Martin reported:
Those in a position to know report the affair by Judge Fuller, conducted with his former Courtroom Deputy Clerk and bailiff, Kelli Gregg, has been ongoing for four or five years, and is basically an "open secret" in the building.
Martin supplemented his news article with an editorial that said he was uncomfortable writing about a divorce.
"However," he continued, "the matter discussed here is not about a divorce, but rather about a betrayal of the public trust by an individual holding one of the highest positions in our Nation...that of making decisions affecting the life, liberty and property of us all."
Martin cited expert perspective from Scott Horton. Horton is an Alabama native, prominent lawyer, adjunct law professor and high-profile legal commentator. He has written two score columns for Harper's beginning in 2007 documenting abusive practices by Fuller, particularly in presiding over the 2006 corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the state's most important Democrat, and co-defendant businessman Richard Scrushy.
Fuller issued many pro-prosecution rulings in the case while also becoming enriched through his secret, controlling ownership of Doss Aviation, a military defense contractor that received $300 million in no-bid federal contracts unknown to litigants.
Horton commented at length for Martin's column on the ethical problems arising from the divorce allegations, which include claims of drug use by the judge.
These ethics issues surrounding a single judge, Mark Everett Fuller, are to my knowledge, without any equal on the federal bench.
Horton suggested, for example, that the Justice Department must have known of the judge's affair, creating a potential issue of improper pressures in many other criminal and civil cases of huge importance. Horton was the featured guest on my weekly public affairs radio program, MTL Washington Update, May 17. Click link for the archive .
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