"I" is for irony,
By Al Lewis, Dow Jones Newswires
Monday, October 27, 2008
It's getting tougher to say who might end up in prison first,
former Qwest Communications International Inc. CEO Joe Nacchio
or the federal judge who slapped him with a six-year sentence on
Nacchio remains free on bond pending a successful appeal of his
April 2007 conviction, but his appellate victory remains under
review and could be reversed.
Meanwhile, the now-former Chief Judge Edward W. Nottingham of Denver's U.S. District Court is gaining ground
in a race to the pokey.
Nottingham, who was appointed by President
George H.W. Bush in 1989, sent his resignation letter to
President George W. Bush on Tuesday amid investigations into his
alleged judicial misconduct.
A statement from the judge's attorney said
is "remorseful . . . embarrassed and ashamed . . . and sincerely
apologizes to the public and judiciary."
Nacchio's trial put Nottingham
in the national spotlight with the highest-profile case of his
Then Nottingham's third wife revealed in divorce court that he'd
run up a $3,000 tab in one night at a
Nottingham testified that he was too drunk to
remember how he'd blown all this loot, as if he'd never smirked
at defendants using this same line in his own courtroom.
Then came an allegation that Nottingham
surfed porn sites on a laptop computer at his bench. And
another that he frequented prostitutes. And then another
that he menaced a woman in a wheelchair who confronted him for
illegally parking in a handicapped parking space at a Walgreens.
These antics mostly earned him snickers and the nickname "Judge
Naughty." Many observers opined that
would not lose his career over a hooker as former New York Gov.
Eliot Spitzer did. Federal judges are appointed for life.
Spitzer was elected by a popular vote.
The latest allegations, first reported by Deborah Sherman of
Denver's NBC affiliate 9News, are stickier: That a former
prostitute alleged to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct.
10 that Nottingham threatened her and asked her to lie to
investigators about his payments for sex.
This could be an obstruction-of-justice charge waiting to
happen, the kind of thing that sent first-timer Martha Stewart
to Camp Cupcake.
"I suspect that in resigning, he will end up terminating the
law professor Jay Brown. "I suspect that's what he's
trying to do."
For now, Nottingham has defused
threats of potential impeachment hearings. U.S. Sen. Ken
Salazar began expressing his concerns as early as March and more
recently called for Nottingham's
Nottingham is the only man I have ever met who
could make me feel sorry for Nacchio.
During the trial, Nottingham
constantly belittled Nacchio's attorneys. He even lamented
to the jury about having to take a Passover break so that
Nacchio's lawyers could go eat their matzo. Then during
berated Nacchio with a bizarre diatribe on morality and the laws
of God and man.
Nacchio won his reversal on other grounds, but the 10th Circuit
Court of Appeals is now reconsidering its reversal after a rare
en banc hearing, where the full appellate panel reviews the
decision of three appellate judges. Nacchio could be sent
to prison in the weeks that follow this pending decision.
Nottingham, meanwhile, has yet to be charged
with a crime.
Yet somehow I keep imagining them — Naughty and Nacchio — in the
same cell. With all they'd have to say to each other, they
could sure pass the time.
Al Lewis: 201-938-5266 or