Judicial Watch to represent magistrate in lawsuit

Judicial Watch to represent magistrate in lawsuit
Former Alexandria magistrate Elizabeth Fuller.

By Olivia Anderson | oanderson@alextimes.com

Judicial Watch announced on Tuesday that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of former Alexandria magistrate Elizabeth Fuller, against officials in the Office of the Executive Secretary of Magistrate Services in violation of her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Fuller was terminated after speaking to the Alexandria Times about her 2020 complaint that ultimately led to the revocation of former bondsman Man Nguyen’s license.

Founded in 1994, the conservative activist group seeks to promote government transparency and investigate claimed misconduct by officials through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. “Plaintiff enjoys the right to freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This includes the right to comment to the Alexandria Times on Plaintiff’s public complaint filed in her personal capacity about the misconduct of a bondsman and its outcome, and the system’s failure to protect a rape victim,” the lawsuit reads. “Plaintiff also enjoys the right to due process, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

“At all relevant times, Plaintiff was engaged in constitutionally protected speech when she made the comments to the Alexandria Times, which undeniably addressed matters of public concern,” the lawsuit reads.

Fuller’s October 2021 termination followed a grand jury indictment of Ibrahim Bouaichi in January 2020 for five charges, including rape. The Alexandria Circuit Court released Bouaichi on bond in April 2020; he later drove to the residence of his rape accuser, Karla Dominguez, where he shot and killed her.

Nguyen was the bondsman who posted Bouaichi’s $25,000 bail The Times discovered via a resident-filed FOIA request that Nguyen violated the rules and regulations of his role as a surety bail bondsman, as well as the fact that Fuller filed the complaint that led to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services ultimately revoking his license. On Jan. 26, 2022, Nguyen was convicted for contempt of court in Alexandria Circuit Court and currently awaits sentencing.

DMS claimed that Fuller was fired for violating the Canons of Conduct for Virginia Magistrates by providing public comment about her decision to file a complaint against Nguyen.

Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, in response, asserts that Fuller’s firing was “retaliation for protected speech and that the judicial canon used to justify her firing doesn’t apply to comments made about a public filing made in her personal capacity about a concluded matter.”

“An innocent woman is dead because she was murdered by a rapist who was let out of jail. And so the Virginia court fires the magistrate who blew the whistle on the court bondsman whose misconduct enabled this murder?” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release. “Ms. Fuller is a hero, and she lost her job in violation of her constitutional rights because she embarrassed Virginia officials over their deadly soft-on-crime bail policies.”