Federal Judge, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller, 55, has been accused of hitting his wife after she accused him of infidelity. This Sunday, Atlanta police responded to a complaint from Fuller's wife and arrested Fuller at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in downtown Atlanta. Judge Fuller has been charged with misdemeanor battery and was released from an Atlanta jail Monday after posting a $5,000 bond.
The reports of what happened have been well covered by the news media. My focus is how we treat public figures after an arrest.
When public figures are arrested, their cases become immediate news stories. Their pictures are posted online and throughout the media. Commentators are hired by television outlets to explain the consequences of the offense and to provide idle speculation to fill the time.
As a result, what would not be news for a regular citizen is turned into headlines when the accused is a public figure. For example, a Georgia DUI arrest or domestic violence misdemeanor is NOT NEWS. However, for Judge Fuller, his misdemeanor arrest is all over the news. What should be clear is that had Fuller not been a public figure, this story would never have been publicized. Now, the prosecutors and other judges involved will pay closer attention to his case.
Some might assume that as a Federal judge, Fuller will receive special treatment. On the contrary, when public figures or any celebrity is accused of committing a crime, the publicity that surrounds the incident makes matters far worse. Judge Fuller will not receive special treatment and may be treated worse because no one wants to be accused of giving him special treatment.
I am neither a friend of the judge nor his attorney. I do not even practice in Federal Court. I make this statement as an unbiased, unrelated party.
Unfortunately, when media outlets pick up on stories it is easy to assign blame. However, Judge Fuller is only at the beginning stages of the judicial process, and he is still presumed innocent. It is unfortunate that any misdemeanor case should draw this much attention.