No Comment — October 16, 2007, 12:26 pm

2003 Affidavit Raises More Serious Questions About Siegelman Judge

I have received a copy of an affidavit (8.7Mb PDF) filed by a Missouri attorney in 2003 which details a number of charges of unethical and criminal conduct against Judge Mark Fuller. The attorney sought Fuller’s removal from a high-profile litigation which related to a prominent Republican who was close to both the current President Bush and his father.

The attorney, Paul Benton Weeks, had been involved as counsel for plaintiffs in a civil action called Murray v. Scott & Sevier, which had originally been filed in Kansas and was later transferred to Montgomery and assigned to Judge Fuller. Weeks, reached by telephone this morning, advised me that he did a routine background check to discover what kind of judge he was up before. “I was astonished by what I found,” Weeks said. Immediately after the papers were filed, Weeks said that Fuller was removed as the judge handling the case.

In the affidavit, Weeks accuses Fuller of engaging in criminal conduct both before and after he came on to the bench. The charges include perjury, criminal conspiracy, a criminal attempt to defraud the Retirement System of Alabama, misuse of office as a District Attorney, and an obstruction of his background check by the FBI in connection with the review of his appointment by President Bush to the bench. (I faxed a copy of the affidavit to Fuller’s office and also left a message asking for comment, but received no reply; if Fuller does reply I’ll update this post.)

Weeks’s allegations were transmitted to Noel Hillman, the head of the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice, among other recipients. Hillman’s office has responsibility to conduct investigations into allegations concerning wrongdoing by federal judges.

This means that at the time that Fuller was presiding over the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman, a prosecution brought by Noel Hillman’s Public Integrity Section, he was or should have been the subject of an investigation by the Public Integrity Section. This presents a further appearance of serious impropriety both by Judge Fuller and by the prosecutors handling the case. Our earlier study of Fuller showed that he had three disqualifying conflicts: his undisclosed service on the Executive Committee of the Alabama G.O.P. at the time that it was running campaigns against Siegelman; his suggestion that Siegelman was responsible for “politically motivated” attacks on him in connection with his bookkeeping practices as a district attorney; and his business interests which are tied up almost entirely with U.S. government contracts.

Weeks’s allegations are focused on Fuller’s conduct in connection with “salary spiking” involving two of his employees in the District Attorney’s office. Fuller’s testimony, which Weeks says was contradictory and which changed materially in the course of the matter, was disbelieved both by the RSA and by an Alabama court handling the matter. Weeks calls Fuller’s statements under oath perjured. In an interview today, Weeks noted that Fuller was an “absentee district attorney.” “Many of the people I interviewed in the district attorney’s office insisted that Fuller was simply never around. He was constantly out of the state, most often in Colorado, pursuing the business of DOSS Aviation, a company that Fuller controls.”

Weeks’s affidavit reflects interviews with Fuller’s successor in the district attorney’s office and with senior officials at the RSA, who confirm the allegations against Fuller. “Judge McAliley then said that he had met with RSA officials and that every member on the RSA board believed Mark Fuller had lied and that Fuller had lied under oath.

Weeks notes that after the affidavit was transmitted to the Justice Department, no individual from Noel Hillman’s group ever contacted him to follow up on any of the allegations or to request any of the documentation that was cited in the affidavit.

The full affidavit can be read here. (8.7Mb PDF) In the Siegelman trial the relationship between the prosecution and the judge always looked just a little too cosy, but the Weeks disclosures create an appearance of serious impropriety. The Siegelman case presents a bizarre spectacle: a political corruption prosecution which is itself profoundly corrupt. As time proceeds, the allegations against Siegelman appear more and more dubious, but the evidence of criminal wrongdoing by those who brought and handled the case is mounting.

Update: Prosecutorial Judge-Shopping
Several attorneys in Alabama have brought an important point to our attention. When the Siegelman case began it was in the Northern District, and after one recusal the case was assigned to Chief Judge U.W. Clemon. He challenged the prosecution’s basis for the case and required a prima facie showing, which the U.S. Attorney, Alice Martin, could not meet and thus wound up dismissing the case.

Martin (who now is under investigation for perjury) (Update, April 22, 2008: Harper’s was informed on April 17, 2008 that the perjury investigation against Alice Martin was concluded on November 28, 2007, with a finding by the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility that Alice Martin “did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment.” More information on the OPR’s findings is available on this site.) then applied to the Eleventh Circuit to have Clemon removed from the surviving case. In her case, which had been brought with the involvement of Noel Hillman, then head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, Martin argued to the Court of Appeals that Clemon should be removed because he was prejudiced against the prosecution. The basis cited for this prejudice was that a California U.S. attorney had, a decade earlier, conducted an inquiry focusing on Judge Clemon’s sister. The Eleventh Circuit granted Martin’s petition and removed Clemon from the case. The facts surrounding the motion against Chief Judge Clemon were reported in the student newspaper of the University of Alabama, Crimson White, in an article entitled “Siegelman Indictment: The Rundown,” on September 27, 2004.

The Justice Department engaged in amazing and brazen judge-shopping in connection with the Siegelman case. After having the case dismissed in the Northern District, they proceeded in the Middle District, where they could get a new judge. In her Congressional testimony, Republican attorney Jill Simpson charges that senior G.O.P. operatives had hand-picked Judge Mark Fuller as the judge who would handle the Siegelman case because they knew he was a loyal Republican who bore a deep grudge against Siegelman. Simpson’s allegations match the facts we upturned in our investigative series on Judge Fuller this summer, and they are borne out by the Weeks affidavit.

And now we learn that the Public Integrity Section, which was bringing and managing the case against Siegelman, also had an extremely serious complaint of criminal conduct against Fuller.

This invites an interesting comparison with the case involving Clemon. In one a decade-old case in another district involving a family member mandated recusal of the judge. In the other, a current case involving the judge himself did not. What is the distinguishing rule in place? One judge was a Democratic appointee who was skeptical of the charges–quite properly, as it turned out–and the other was a zealously engaged partisan Republican with a grudge against Siegelman. That’s what the Justice Department was looking for. This goes far beyond a double standard, and it invites more questions as to why the prosecutor originally assigned to handle the case mysteriously dropped off the case and then quit the employ of the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2018

Nobody Knows

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Other Whisper Network

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Infinity of the Small

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Empty Suits

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Great Divide

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Other Whisper Network·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to leave out their names, and give them what I began to call deep anonymity. This was strange, because what they were saying did not always seem that extreme. Yet here in my living room, at coffee shops, in my inbox and on my voicemail, were otherwise outspoken female novelists, editors, writers, real estate agents, professors, and journalists of various ages so afraid of appearing politically insensitive that they wouldn’t put their names to their thoughts, and I couldn’t blame them. 

Of course, the prepublication frenzy of Twitter fantasy and fury about this essay, which exploded in early January, is Exhibit A for why nobody wants to speak openly. Before the piece was even finished, let alone published, people were calling me “pro-rape,” “human scum,” a “harridan,” a “monster out of Stephen King’s ‘IT,’?” a “ghoul,” a “bitch,” and a “garbage person”—all because of a rumor that I was planning to name the creator of the so-called Shitty Media Men list. The Twitter feminist Jessica Valenti called this prospect “profoundly shitty” and “incredibly dangerous” without having read a single word of my piece. Other tweets were more direct: “man if katie roiphe actually publishes that article she can consider her career over.” “Katie Roiphe can suck my dick.” With this level of thought policing, who in their right mind would try to say anything even mildly provocative or original? 

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Post
CamperForce·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Days after the Columbine shootings in 1999 that Eric Holder called for “regulations in how people interact on the Internet‚”:

5

The 63 percent drop in Brazil’s birth rate between 1960 and 2000 was due in part to soap operas.

US president Donald Trump, who once said it “doesn’t matter” what journalists write about him if he has a “piece of ass” that is “young,” blamed the press coverage of the abuse allegations on the White House communications director, whom Trump has reportedly called a “piece of tail” and asked to steam a pair of pants he was wearing.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today