Battery charge against U.S. judge dropped, angering congresswoman

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 14, 2015 3:46 PM

(Reuters) - A misdemeanor charge against a federal judge accused of beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room in August 2014 has been dropped, a court official said on Tuesday, prompting an angry reaction from a U.S. congresswoman who has called for his dismissal.

The allegations against Alabama-based U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, which came amid a furor over the National Football League's perceived lenient treatment of players accused or convicted of domestic violence, triggered a judicial inquiry and calls for his removal from the bench.

Fuller, who was stripped of his docket following the incident, has said through his attorney that he hopes to return to his job.

U.S. Congressman Terri Sewell, an Alabama Democrat, said on Tuesday that the April 2 dismissal of the battery charge and its expungement from Fuller's record after his completion of a six-month domestic violence program sends the wrong message to perpetrators.

"I am deeply disturbed that the charges against Judge Mark Fuller have been dismissed," Sewell said in a statement. "There should never have been an agreement to expunge his record, nor should he be allowed to remain on the federal bench."

A 2002 appointee of former President George W. Bush, Fuller is awaiting the findings of a special judicial panel that will recommend whether he should keep his job, a decision that could ultimately rest with the U.S. Congress, which has impeachment powers over federal judges.

Three U.S. senators last year joined Sewell in calling for Fuller's resignation.

Last week, U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, a Republican, sent the chief judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a letter asking for an update on the status of the investigation into the Fuller case.

In the letter, Grassley said the spousal abuse allegations against Fuller, if true, "may significantly undermine his ability to serve as a judge."

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Eric Walsh)