Denver -- Court documents 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. 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.
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."
Our partners at KUSA 9NEWS showed the transcripts to 9NEWS Legal Analyst Scott Robinson.
"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," Robinson said, "contrary to the code of conduct for federal judges."
Nottingham also testified about credit card charges for a Web site called IPayFriendFinder.com.
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."
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."
Under the U.S. Constitution, federal judges are appointed for life by the president of the United States. They are supposed to follow an official code of conduct, which contains this explanation:
"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."
According to Robinson, as a federal judge Nottingham can be removed from the bench only for high crimes, misdemeanors, treason or bribery.
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