Federal judge expected to go
Nottingham mired in sex-related misconduct
By Sara Burnett
Rocky Mountain News
Friday, October 17, 2008
Chief U.S. District Judge Edward W.
is expected to quit the federal bench amid a new sex-related
scandal and a closed-door judicial misconduct hearing that
didn't go well, sources said Thursday.
Nottingham could not be reached for comment, and the clerk of
the U.S. District Court for
said he had received no official letter of resignation.
"To my knowledge it does not exist," Clerk of Court Gregory
Nottingham's attorney did not return a phone
But three sources with knowledge of
Nottingham's plans, and who spoke on condition of
anonymity, said the resignation is expected this week.
The judge called in sick Wednesday and Thursday, and 9News
reported that a trial he has been presiding over will be
assigned to a different judge when it resumes Monday.
Nottingham, 60, has been the subject of several
judicial misconduct complaints filed with the 10th Circuit Court
of Appeals in the past year. The most recent complaint
became public Thursday in a 9News report.
A former prostitute said Nottingham
asked her to lie to investigators and tell them he didn't pay
her for sex, the station reported. The woman, whom 9News
did not identify, worked for the former escort service Bada Bing
Denver. She claimed Nottingham
paid her $250 to $300 per hour for sex once a week between
February 2003 and November 2004. According to 9News, the
woman filed her complaint in writing with the 10th Circuit last
The station said Nottingham had
not responded to attempts to contact him.
The judge's troubles started in 2007, when his ex-wife went
public with statements Nottingham
made during their divorce proceedings. The judge admitted
he spent $3,000 over two days at the Diamond Cabaret, a
strip club, but said he was too drunk to remember much of it. Nottingham later issued a statement saying he wouldn't
discuss "private and personal matters involving human frailties
Months later, a Denver woman who
uses a wheelchair complained Nottingham
parked illegally in a handicapped spot, then got angry with her
when she confronted him. In a tape recording of the 911
call the woman made at the time, Nottingham is heard calmly explaining he is in the wrong.
Officers issued him a $100 ticket, which he paid, Denver police said.
Most recently, 9News reported that
Nottingham's name was among a list of clients seized
in a federal investigation of Denver Players, a high-end
Nottingham has not been charged with a crime.
In March, Chief Judge Robert Henry of the 10th Circuit Court of
Appeals, issued an order stating he was looking into allegations
that a U.S. district
court judge "brought disrepute to the judiciary." Henry
did not name the judge, but Sean Harrington, the man who filed
the complaint, confirmed to the Rocky it was
Henry's decision to proceed with an investigation was unusual.
Between fiscal years 2005 and 2007, fewer than half of the
complaints filed nationwide moved forward, according to a report
by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Almost
all those complaints were later dismissed.
Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments, paying roughly
$165,000 per year. Judges may be removed only by a trial
of impeachment in the U.S. Senate.
If the 10th Circuit concluded that
had committed misconduct, it would have several options: a
public or private reprimand, a restricted caseload or a request
that the judge voluntarily retire.
A source said Nottingham had a
hearing before the panel investigating his case recently, and
that the panel came down hard on him.
If Nottingham resigns, the
normal outcome would be that all misconduct proceedings would
His departure would create a second vacancy on Colorado's short- handed federal bench, and
come at a bad time for the court. The Senate confirmed two
new judges last month, after more than a year of disagreement
between the state's two senators. A third vacancy was left
unfilled. With the presidential election weeks away, and a
new president not taking office until January, it could be
months before the vacancies could be filled.
County native, was
appointed to the federal bench in 1989. He has presided
over several high-profile trials, including that of ex-Qwest CEO
Judge Nottingham's interesting past cases
* In 2007, Nottingham
presided over the trial of former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, who was
convicted on 19 counts of insider trading. At sentencing,
he called Nacchio's actions "crimes of overarching greed" and
questioned why he ever came to Colorado. Then he
sentenced Nacchio to six years in prison, a $19 million fine and
$52 million forfeiture. The case is on appeal.
* Also in 2007, Nottingham
compared an attorney's arguments to putting lipstick on a pig --
and included a photo of a lipstick-wearing animal in his 27-page
* In 2005, Nottingham
ordered a Steamboat Springs woman thrown in jail because she
wouldn't stop filing lawsuits he called "frivolous" and
* In 2003, his office was flooded with angry phone
calls after he ruled the popular federal "do not call" list
violated telemarketers' free-speech rights. An appeals
court overturned the ruling.
* Also in 2003, he questioned the U.S. military's use of a mandatory
anthrax vaccine. While Nottingham
dismissed the case of a soldier dishonorably discharged for
refusing the vaccine, he said her claims that it was unsafe were
reason for concern. "The military will be held accountable
if it is using its own soldiers as guinea pigs," he said.