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Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



New allegations of physical abuse seem to surface daily. The most recent downpour began with the media release of a hotel surveillance video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his girlfriend in the face, leaving her knocked out on the elevator floor — and leaving even the most ardent NFL fans deeply disgusted. Then came more charges against a multitude of players on teams from coast to coast. College football took its licks with Florida State Heisman trophy winner Jamis Winston being accused of a number of crimes including rape. So is it just big time athletes who can’t control themselves? Hardly. How about the reckless and unlawful behavior of some federal judges?

We expect federal judges appointed for life to conduct themselves with decorum and to maintain the highest levels of legal ethics. Sad to say, however, that these protectors of the public trust are often as wild, irresponsible, and out of control as any NFL player. A number of federal judges, particularly in the South, have recently been guilty of both physical abuse as well as actions that seriously compromise, what should be, a high code of conduct.

The latest judicial abuser is federal judge Mark Fuller from Alabama. His first wife accused him of domestic violence and drug abuse. But that was just a warm up. Fuller’s second wife called 911 from an Atlanta motel room recently, saying the judge was drunk, and pleaded to the dispatcher, “Help me please. Please help me. He’s beating me.” Fuller beat her, threw her to the ground, kicked and dragged her, and hit her repeatedly in the face resulting in multiple cuts on her mouth and forehead.

But hey, he’s a federal judge, so no big deal. After his arrest, he was given a plea deal allowing him to go to counseling and his record will be expunged. Fat chance that any private citizen would get such a deal. Fuller should have been criminally charged with assault, immediately resign from the bench or be quickly impeached by congress.

Federal judges who abuse their authority or commit criminal acts are often given “special consideration,” particularly in my home state of Louisiana. Here’s just one example from an extensive list: Early this year, Lake Charles federal judge Patricia Minaldi tried to outrun police on a high speed chase to her house, refused officers orders to get out of her car, then claimed protection by being on her own property. “I’m calling to report an intoxicated driver,” a 911 caller had stated. “She’s weaving all over the world. Tried to turn the wrong way onto the Interstate. She’s crossing the centerline, and she’s weaving like an “˜S’ down the road … Oh, she almost got into a wreck.” Judge Minaldi pled guilty to a DWI but was quietly allowed to go on probation for a year. Could you have gotten a similar deal?

Then there’s the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, hands down the most dysfunctional federal circuit court in America. Just check out some of the recent headlines concerning what used to be a respected court.

Fifth Circuit Covers Up Serious Judicial Misconduct!

Another Conflict of Interest Uncovered on the Fifth Circuit!

Judicial Diva Gone Wild?  Chief Judge Tells Fellow Judge to “Shut Up!”

Chief Judge Attacks Fellow Judge!

Pattern of Misconduct Demands Full Investigation of Fifth Circuit Judges!

5th Circuit Judge Throws A Hissy Fit!

Judge Edith Clement has been particularly singled out recently for doing, according to press reports, “whatever she pleases.” Morning Advocate Columnist James Gill recently wrote, “Clement, who sits on the appeals court, is also on the board of a foundation bankrolled by Big Oil. Thus, she gets to swank around luxury Montana resorts gratis before returning home to write opinions in BP’s favor that strike her colleagues as eccentric.” She’s been called in press reports a secrecy freak, a “Closet Fascist,” and issued rulings that the Times Picayune has labeled “patently un-American.”

As I have written before, federal court watchers have a name for federal judges who lack the scholarship, the temperament, the learning, and who are simply in the wrong occupation.  They are called “gray mice.” It seems pretty obvious that the Fifth circuit Court of Appeals is full of such critters.

Yes, there are a number of high caliber, principled, and competent federal judges in Louisiana and the rest of the South. But a few tainted judges can give them all a bad name. Ben Franklin often talked about a few bad apples spoiling the reputation of the whole bunch. We could no doubt put rotten apples, some NFL football players, and a few federal judges who feel that they are privileged all in the same barrel.


 “Judges are the weakest link in our system of justice, and they are also the most protected.“

Professor Alan M Dershowitz

Peace and Justice

  Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Communications Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com

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