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Federal judge resigns amid misconduct probe

The chief federal district judge in Colorado is resigning amid an investigation into allegations of misconduct.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

The chief federal district judge in Colorado is resigning amid an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

Details of the allegations against Judge Edward W. Nottingham weren’t released. The announcement comes days after a former prostitute told a Denver television station that Nottingham asked her to lie to federal investigators. Another person had filed a complaint earlier this year citing news reports that Nottingham allegedly viewed adult Web sites on his government computer in his chambers.

A statement released by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Nottingham has "ceased judicial duties" because of “multiple complaints of misconduct.” His resignation is effective Oct. 29, the court said. Judge Wiley Y. Daniel succeeds Nottingham as chief judge.

The statement did not elaborate and the judicial council said it would not comment further until after the resignation takes effect.

A message left with Nottingham's chambers wasn't immediately returned. A statement issued by his attorney's office said Nottingham "is deeply remorseful for his actions. He is also embarrassed and ashamed for any loss of confidence caused by those actions and attendant publicity, and sincerely apologizes to the public and judiciary.

"Judge Nottingham also believes that the resignation is necessary for him to begin taking the necessary steps to put this matter behind him," the statement said.

Report: Involved with prostitute
A who identified herself as a former prostitute told KUSA-TV that she had sex with Nottingham for $250 to $300 an hour once a week from February 2003 through November 2004. She said he asked her to lie to investigators in March, helping her make up a story about how they knew each other so she would not tell investigators that he paid her for sex, the station reported.

Sean Harrington, who heads a legal technology firm, had filed a complaint in January citing media reports that Nottingham allegedly viewed porn sites on his government computer in his chambers.

Harrington also alleged that Nottingham had testified in his own divorce case that he spent $3,000 at a strip club. Sealed transcripts of the divorce case were obtained in 2007 by KUSA.

At the time, Nottingham issued a statement saying that "private and personal matters involving human frailties and foibles" had became public because of bitter divorce proceedings.

Court officials told Harrington in May his complaint had been submitted to a judicial council for review.

Another complaint against Nottingham involved a dispute over a parking spot for the disabled. Nottingham had parked in the spot, and an attorney parked her wheelchair behind his vehicle. Police issued Nottingham a $100 ticket. He later said he regretted parking there.

Skillful jurist
Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar on Friday had called for Nottingham to step down. Salazar spokesman Michael Amodeo cited "a string allegations dating back to March concerning his conduct," but would not elaborate.

"On the bench, Chief Judge Edward Nottingham was one of the most skillful lawyers and jurists I have known. I am saddened by the allegations and it is right that he resign," Salazar said in a statement.

Nottingham presided over the high-profile insider-trading trial of the former CEO of Denver-based Qwest. Federal prosecutors argued Nacchio sold $52 million worth of stock at a time when he knew Qwest was at risk while other investors did not.

He was convicted of 19 counts and acquitted of 23 others in April 2007. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit ordered a new trial in March, saying Nottingham improperly prevented a defense expert from testifying.

The appeals court ordered the case go before a new judge, saying that "it would be unreasonably difficult to expect this judge (Nottingham) to retry the case with a fresh mind."

The full 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the panel's decision.

Nottingham was a private attorney and assistant U.S. attorney in Denver before President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench in 1989. He became chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Colorado last year.