Former Chief U.S. District Judge Edward W. Nottingham Jr. did not file a response to misconduct allegations that could put his law license in jeopardy.
Sean Harrington, a legal blogger who runs the website knowyourcourts.com, filed a misconduct complaint about the former judge with the Colorado Attorney Regulation Counsel and with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
(Harrington's website is more of a resource for activists interested in reforming courts and addressing alleged judicial and legal profession impropriety, than it is a traditional law blog, but Harrington is a regular commentor on pertinent issues at this blog and has worked hard to have a documentary and factual basis for offering Internet commentary on those issues.)
Judge Nottingham resigned from the 10th Circuit, rendering that matter moot. But, not responding to an inquiry from the Colorado Attorney Regulation Counsel is normally the sort of thing done only by lawyers who have abandoned their practices entirely. Failure to respond to a complaint itself can be considered as serious a matter as any underlying offense by the Regulation Counsel.
The far more typical response would be a letter vigorously disputing the claims made, or a defense at the very least directed towards mitigating any penalty supported by a raft of character witnesses. Often, this produces a very mild ultimate sentence such as a public reprimand, while sanctions in a case where an attorney fails to respond are often far more serious. This is particularly true in a case like his where the public allegations made against him, while embarassing, aren't terribly serious and there are no allegations that his professional output was impacted.
Nottingham would certainly have the financial means to hire a competent attorney to defend him (something he appears to have done already), the intelligence to assist in his defense effectively, and no shortage of people who would be eager to testify as character witnesses on his behalf. Nottingham is also has enough working age years ahead of him to make his law license quite economically valuable. Many medium and large sized Colorado law firms with leap at an opportunity to hire him.
Nottingham's reputation for strict attention to detail during his judicial career, and the fact that he is currently represented by counsel (according to the newspaper report) also makes it seem unlikely that he could have accidentally failed to respond in a timely manner if he was not truly depondent at his meteoric fall from high judicial office. One can imagine that a response might be considered futile if a 5th Amendment claim were contemplated or there was an informal agreement of prosecutors not to press charges if a law license was quietly surrendered, but those possibilities don't seem likely. One would normally, at least, make some response, even if it was to formally decide not to contest the charges or to request a delay in the handling of the matter, in that situation.
It is, of course, possible that the story is inaccurate in stating that there was no response, or that no response is due yet. Time will tell how this case resolves itself.