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The Telemarketing Judge

Update: The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has suspended Judge Nottingham's order declaring telemarketer's "do not call lists" unconsittutional while it considers the validity of the ruling.

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Kudos to Kevin Drum of Calpundit for being the lead-in to this morning's Denver Post article about U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham and his controversial ruling declaring the telemarketing "no call" list unconstitutional.

Ruling puts no-frills judge in hot seat

Over the past two weeks, people across the country have wondered, as have those who post their opinions online at Calpundit, a California Web log - just who is this Edward Nottingham?

"WHO IS EDWARD W. NOTTINGHAM? AND WHY DO 51 MILLION PEOPLE NOW HATE HIM? Judicial activism must be stopped!" was how the Nottingham thread opened on Calpundit.

The article goes on to quote local attorneys and others familiar with Judge Nottingham, the strictness with which he runs his courtroom and his rulings. Most acknowledge that the Judge, appointed in 1989 by Bush, Sr., leaves his politics out of the courtroom.

We'll agree.

We've known the Judge a long time--since he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In the 70's, we faced him in court when he was a prosecutor. Since he became judge, we've defended many, many defendants in his courtroom. We've even been subjected to this tactic on one occasion in a multi-defendant case when he tried to set a hearing date and some lawyer stood up and said he had another matter at the time.

He ordered some attorneys to appear for motions hearings at 6:30 in the morning. Many still believe this was his way of punishing them for filing motions he considered frivolous.

Actually, that wasn't the reason, at least in our case. Rather, it was his way of telling the lawyers that if they didn't make themselves available at the requested time, he'd find a time everyone was available. Yes, it was very strange getting to the courthouse at 6:15 to argue motions --but the tactic worked. Word spread like wildfire and we can't remember a setting since where a lawyer was dumb enough to stand up and say s/he had a calendar conflict.

We still appear before Judge Nottingham and we welcome the opportunity to do so. We'll agree he can be "irrascible," as the article says, and you never know exactly what's going to happen when you're in front of him, but we can say in all the time we've known him, we've never encountered anything even remotely political in his decisions. He works incredibly hard. One time we were trying a RICO case in front of him and the prosecution rested in the late afternoon. We were to make our motion for judgment of acquittal at 8:30 the next morning. We went home and wrote a long brief to support our argument that night, and got it to the courthouse at 7:00, wanting the Judge to have it before he ruled. We thought we'd slip it under the door to his chambers since the clerk's office wasn't open that early. When we got there, the light was on in his office, he was already fast at work. After making the argument, he granted our motion and the case was dismissed.

Judge Nottingham is a fair, but strict judge. He is the kind of judge that forces you to become a better lawyer, knowing when you go into his courtroom that you will be challenged on every argument you make. He has discredited testimony of cops and DEA agents when he believed them to be lying. On the other hand, he had no qualms in sentencing a young, non-violent crack offender to life in prison. Bottom line in our opinion: He rules based on the law as he interprets it, with no discernible ideological agenda.

But, we digress. We intended merely to point out that our fellow blogger Calpundit made the big time today, by being the focus of a prominent news article on the Judge. We take this as a welcome sign that more journalists are reading blogs. Way to go, Kevin.

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