Federal judge may resign amid inquiry
By Felisa Cordona
Friday, October 17, 2008
Chief U.S. District Judge Edward W. Nottingham Jr. is contemplating resignation in the midst
of a judicial probe of his conduct outside the courtroom.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been investigating
Nottingham's conduct for several months, mostly
involving allegations that he spent $3,000 on strippers in one
night and that he was on a list of clients of a local escort
Nottingham is also accused of getting into an
argument with a woman in a wheelchair after she called him out
for parking illegally in a handicapped spot.
9News and the Rocky Mountain News reported that
is going to resign. But a source close to the judge told
the Denver Post that he has not made a decision to resign and
that he is consulting with his attorneys.
Nottingham declined comment. His lawyer,
Stephen Peters, did not return calls.
9News also reported that a former prostitute came forward last
week and filed a complaint with the 10th Circuit alleging
had asked her to mislead investigators by denying that he had
paid her for sex. Complaints against federal judges are
Gregory Langham, the clerk of the U.S. District Court in
Denver, says he has received numerous calls and
inquiries about whether Nottingham intended to resign. Langham said Nottingham called in sick this week, but that he had not
received a notice of resignation from the judge. Langham
did not have any information about when
Nottingham was going to return to work.
Nottingham was set to preside over the drug
trial of Charles Castaneda this week. U.S. District Judge
Wiley Y. Daniel announced that he was going to take over the
six-day trial in Nottingham's
absence. Daniel is considered next in line to be chief
judge of the district.
If Nottingham were to resign,
he would have to submit a letter to the court, Langham said.
He would also have to submit a resignation letter to the White
House and notify Sens. Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar.
Representatives for Salazar and Allard said they had not
received any notice of resignation.
Nottingham could decide to stay on the job and
fight the allegations before the 10th Circuit. He could
also decide to step down as chief judge, but stay on the bench.
The circuit court does not have the authority to force
Nottingham to resign, but he could choose to do so on his own
accord, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the
University of Richmond in
who follows the judiciary. But the court could impose a
punishment such as asking Nottingham
to step down as chief judge, or suspending him from hearing
cases, Tobias said.
"There are measures the 10th Circuit could take that are at
least embarrassing or they could put him on administrative
leave," he said.
Tobias says he is not sure that the allegations, even if proven
true, rise to the level of impeachment by the House of
Representatives or trial in the Senate.
"Any of this activity and conduct, does it have anything to do
with his judicial responsibilities?" Tobias said. "It
might show bad judgment, but is that something you want to
punish a judge for doing?"
Nottingham, 60, received his lifetime
appointment to the federal bench in November 1989.
The court in Denver
had three judicial vacancies until earlier this month when
Christine Arguello and Philip Brimmer were confirmed.
Felisa Cardona: 303-954-1219 or