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Fuller resigns from federal bench

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama federal judge and former Pike County District Attorney who was arrested on a spousal abuse charge last year has resigned from the bench.

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, 56, will resign effective Aug. 1, his attorney, Barry Ragsdale said Friday. The resignation comes after months of review by a judicial panel and calls from politicians in both political parties for Fuller to voluntarily step down.

Atlanta police arrested Fuller on a misdemeanor battery charge in August after his then-wife, Kelli Fuller, called police to the couple’s room at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta.

Kelli Fuller told police her husband became violent when she accused him of cheating, pulling her hair, throwing her to the ground, and kicking her. Mark Fuller told officers he threw her to the ground to defend himself after she threw a drink glass at him while he watched television. A police report stated that Kelli Fuller “answered the door in tears” and had visible cuts on her mouth and forehead when police arrived.

Fuller reached a plea deal with prosecutors in Atlanta. The charge was dismissed and Fuller’s record expunged following about six months of once-a-week group counseling sessions.

Ragsdale declined to elaborate on the resignation and whether Fuller was asked by a judicial panel to step down.

A special committee of judges last month finished hearings on the incident. The panel interviewed witnesses and examined whether Fuller’s actions were part of a pattern of behavior. Federal judges have lifetime appointments and can only be forcefully removed by impeachment. However, the committee could request Fuller’s resignation.

Fuller has been on leave since his arrest.

Several high-ranking politicians of both parties had called for Fuller to voluntarily resign. Alabama’s two U.S. senators, Republicans Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, have both said the GOP appointee should give up his judgeship.

“News of Judge Fuller’s impending resignation is a welcome outcome to a very painful breach of the public trust,” said U.S Rep Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. His resignation will be the culmination of a drawn-out process that was woefully unnecessary. The public trust was violated the moment his wife phoned the police.”

Fuller was appointed to the bench in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush.

He is perhaps best known for presiding over the 2006 public corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

A jury found Siegelman and Scrushy guilty of striking a deal to sell an appointment to a state regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s 1999 campaign to establish a state lottery.