As many of you know, we’re guilty of federal judicial snobbery here at ATL. We frequently mock state court judges, whom we regard as “icky,” and contrast their regular misadventures — ethical lapses, brushes with the law, messy personal lives — with the generally upright lives of their counterparts on the federal bench.
But federal judges are people too — people who get themselves into highly embarrassing situations. From Colorado’s 9News.com:
Court documents obtained by 9Wants to Know show Colorado’s top federal judge was too drunk to remember how he spent more than $3,000 at a strip club in two consecutive days. He also used an Internet dating service while he was married.
Judge Edward Nottingham is the chief federal judge in Colorado and he is held to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct.
Umm, yeah, this story is all kinds of awesome. Some of Judge Nottingham’s conduct would make a drunken summer associate blush.
More after the jump.
The story continues:
Nottingham recently presided over the insider trading trial of ex-Qwest Communications CEO Joseph Nacchio.
Nottingham married his wife, Marcie Jaeger, on one of the most romantic days of the year – Valentine’s Day 2004.
The marriage ended after Jaeger found credit card charges from a strip club in downtown Denver totaling more than $3,000 in two consecutive days.
Well, at least Judge Nottingham didn’t have 1-800-Flowers send roses to his girlfriend.
Also: If federal district court judges are earning under $200K, can they really afford to drop three grand on two evenings at a strip club? Chief Justice Roberts is right: these judges deserve a pay raise!
In the couple’s divorce case in Eagle County district court last month, Nottingham was questioned about the credit card charges.
Nottingham testified, “I’m ashamed and mortified just telling you that is the Diamond Cabaret … a topless establishment.”
Asked how he could have spent so much money, Nottingham testified he could not recall, explaining, “I had had a lot to drink … and I don’t remember.”
We hear that Aquagirl, who also enjoys the drink, is clerking for a federal judge in Denver. It sounds like she and Judge Nottingham would get along famously!
“Judge Nottingham had at least one lost night at the Diamond Cabaret and of course that goes to the question of whether that is acting with at least the appearance of impropriety,” [legal analyst Scott] Robinson said, “contrary to the code of conduct for federal judges.”
Oh come now, Scott. We love this story too, but that claim is a bit silly. These activities, while unsavory to some, are perfectly legal. A weakness for lap dances doesn’t compromise judicial impartiality; otherwise, three-quarters of all judges would have to step down. As long as Judge Nottingham recuses himself in all cases involving the Diamond Cabaret — say, a First Amendment challenge brought by the club to a restrictive zoning ordinance — he’ll be fine.
Nottingham also testified about credit card charges for a Web site called IPayFriendFinder.com. [The judge's wife Marcie] Jaeger testified that she originally thought it was a dating service.
“When I asked about the dating service he turned around in his chambers and he hit his computer and he told me all about the dating service,” Jaeger said in court. “It was a porn site.”
Your Honor, here’s some friendly advice. Do NOT put porn on your work computer. Another Colorado judge tried that, and it ended badly.
During his testimony, Nottingham called Friend Finder, “A dating site – an Internet dating site.”
When asked in court about a $150 charge to IPayFriendFinder.com, Nottingham said, “I’m embarrassed to be even talking about this. I think you pay extra to get certain features, such as if you upload a picture or – I don’t even recall.”
Judge Nottingham, if you’re looking to “find” a “friend,” just try Friendster or Facebook. They’re free! And if you “poke” or “friend” us, we will gladly add you to our network. You can join the Facebook group for Above the Law, too.
See you online!
Update (11:15 AM): The WSJ Law Blog just put up a post, available here.
Chief federal judge too drunk to remember night at strip club [9News.com]
Edward Willis Nottingham, Jr. [FJC]