Federal Judge Under Scrutiny for $3,000 in Adult Indulgences

DENVER — Judge Edward Nottingham, Colorado's chief federal judge, has come under fire for revelations in his divorce proceedings that he at one point spent over $3,000 over two days at a Denver strip club and used his office computer to access an adult website.

According to Denver TV station KUSA-TV, Nottingham's former wife, Marcia Jaeger, discovered the expenditures through credit card statements that showed charges to the club, Diamond Cabaret, and the website, IPayFriendFinder.com. Her discovery of these charges caused the divorce, the station reported, ending a short-lived marriage.

Despite a request via public statement from Nottingham's office that these issues be left private, there is an issue of propriety to be considered by the community, according to KUSA legal analyst Scott Robinson. Aside from just the fact that Judge Nottingham was patronizing adult businesses, he admitted during his divorce hearings that he was too drunk to remember how he went through $3,000 at the Diamond Cabaret.

"Judge Nottingham had at least one lost night at the Diamond Cabaret," Robinson said, "and of course that goes to the question of whether that is acting with at least the appearance of impropriety, contrary to the code of conduct for federal judges."

The code of conduct for judges includes the decree: "Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must therefore accept restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly. The prohibition against behaving with impropriety or the appearance of impropriety applies to both the professional and personal conduct of a judge."

The statement from Nottingham's office reads: "Judge Nottingham believes the underlying issues raised by Channel Nine News are private and personal matters involving human frailties and foibles, matters which have now become public as a result of protracted, bitter divorce proceedings. Judge Nottingham has attempted to deal with the issues privately, and he will continue to do so. No purpose would be served by exploring these matters publicly."

Nottingham has earned a reputation for running a rigorous, by-the-book courtroom, having handled high profile cases involving pop star Michael Jackson and the Qwest insider trading scandal without any hint of corruption. He said in his divorce testimony that he is "ashamed and mortified" by the strip-club revelations.