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Ala. Senators Call for Judge Mark Fuller's Resignation

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on September 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Since we last brought you the story of Judge Mark Fuller, the Alabama federal district court judge accused of domestic violence, a lot has changed: America has suddenly decided it's a lot less tolerant of domestic violence than it was before NFL player Ray Rice's video appeared on TMZ.

Now, both of Alabama's Republican U.S. senators -- Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions -- have called on Fuller to resign.

Some Background

Back in August, Fuller was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. The incident occurred at a Ritz Carlton in Atlanta; Fuller's wife accused him of cheating on her with his law clerk. Fuller said she became angry and threw a drink glass at him. Fuller doesn't dispute that he grabbed her hair and threw her on the ground, according to The Associated Press.

A U.S. representative from Alabama, Martha Roby, suggested that impeachment was on the table. Impeachment of a federal judge, however, is rare, and convictions are rarer still. The last federal judge to be impeached and convicted was G. Thomas Porteous in 2010, a district court judge from Louisiana who committed perjury and accepted bribes.

Article III judges "shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour," which in the United States has historically meant judges can be impeached when they've been accused of a crime, or engaged in activities that undermine a judge's objectivity. Judges have been impeached for mental instability, intoxication, abuse of power, and income tax evasion in addition to actual crimes like bribery, perjury, and sexual assault.

Where's My Outrage? Oh, There It Is

Shelby and Sessions' calls for resignation are notable in the face of a Congress that was eager to call for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's resignation, but not Fuller's.

Ray Rice was allowed to continue playing football even in light of surveillance video showing him dragging his unconscious fiancée across the lobby of a casino in Atlantic City. For some reason, reasonable people were left to disagree on whether she had been knocked unconscious by Rice. The NFL and Rice's team, the Baltimore Ravens, went beyond suspending Rice for two games only after new footage emerged showing him punching his fiancée in an elevator. Goodell claimed that was the first time he had seen the footage, but a source told the AP that Goodell saw the video in April.

Impeaching a judge for domestic violence hasn't happened before, but given the position of public trust a judge occupies, it seems entirely appropriate.

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