Saturday, March 8, 2008
Trouble Brewing for D. Colo.'s Chief Judge: Strip Clubs, Prostitution, and Parking in a Handicapped Spot
Posted by Alan Childress
Here is the TV news story of a federal court investigation out of Denver, re Chief Judge Edward Nottingham of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, for hiring prostitutes. He was already controversial long before these recent allegations due to prior strip club bills (WSJ Law Blog blurb here) and his demeanor -- also receiving the reputation (says this 'insider's' website) of having "gavelitis," and was "known for scheduling hearings at 6:30 a.m. for lawyers who had irked him." He once jailed a litigant for four months for filing frivolous lawsuits, but out of jail she appealed them and won one. I would say this kind of conduct is a more serious judicial abuse than even charges of illegality in his private life, though that is serious too.
I personally believe anyone who expects anything at 6:30 a.m. is impeachable, though I know Jeff disagrees, as he is usually finishing an article by then. (Jeff lives on a schedule that only makes sense if his home were a dot somewhere in the Atlantic.) At any rate, it will not help Judge Nottingham going forward in the investigation that his name was so easily turned into the nickname "Naughty" by the prostitutes. Res ipsa loquitur, anyone?
By the way, some stories wrongly or ambiguously report the one being investigated as a Chief Judge in the Tenth Circuit. That has got to irk Hon. Robert Henry, Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit (formerly a law prof and dean at Oklahoma City University), and his wife. Journalists really need to learn the basic structure of the federal courts.
One fair question to ask, I think, is why the most recent charges would be an impeachable offense to a federal judge but not to a U.S. Senator. Is there something different about law judging over law making that requires more diligence to the rule of law outside of court? Probably so, but it is worth asking. The news story quotes the judge as having told one famous white collar criminal defendant:
"If it is perceived that there is one law for the rich and one law for everyone else, the law ultimately falls into disrespect," said Judge Edward Nottingham to [Qwest CEO Joe] Nacchio. "The law does not care about your station in life."