BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Outrage over domestic violence reached a new high after revelations involving NFL players. Now, public condemnation is expanding with a call for justice involving a federal judge.
Mark Fuller of Alabama may have his criminal record cleared, despite evidence on a disturbing tape.
This is the 911 call made in August from an Atlanta hotel room.
"911 Operator 6342...what's going on," she says. The woman on the other end cries: "I'm calling ... I need help."
Woman: " I hate you. I hate you!"
Operator: "Kelly? Kelly!"
Woman: "Please help me, he's beating on me!"
Operator: "She says that she's in a domestic fight and I can hear him hitting her now."
The caller is the wife of Mark Fuller, a prominent federal judge who has presided over some of Alabama's biggest cases.
Prosecutors filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Fuller. But the case did not come to national attention until the video surfaced of NFL star Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee, later wife, Janay in a casino hotel elevator.
Now Fuller has been relieved of all his pending cases, and there are calls for his resignation.
"People want another scalp," said Barry Ragsdale, Fuller's attorney and long time friend. "They want to be able to claim the scalp of a federal judge as somehow making up for the fact that the NFL has not kept its house clean."
According to a police report, Kelli Fuller told police her husband "threw her to the ground and kicked her" and "hit her in the mouth several times." The report notes Kelli had "visible lacerations to her mouth and forehead."
Ragsdale says Fuller never hit his wife, and was simply defending himself.
"We really don't know all the facts," said John Carroll, a law professor and former federal judge. He says it would be problematic for Fuller to sit on the bench again. "I think there would always be this incident hanging over him. That jurors who came to court would say 'isn't that the judge who beat up his wife?' "
Fuller's criminal charges will be dropped if he successfully completes 24 weeks of counseling -- part of a deal struck with prosecutors, with the consent of his wife.
As for his professional fate, it now lies in the hands of a federal appeals court in Atlanta. The court can issue a reprimand, ask him to retire or recommend he be banned from the bench forever.
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