By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal will take “senior status,” a form of judicial semi-retirement, next year after 11 years on the federal bench in Wyoming.
Freudenthal, the first woman to serve as a federal judge in Wyoming and the wife of former Gov. Dave Freudenthal, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that she and her husband would like to spend more time visiting family.
“COVID brought home to Dave and me a desire to visit our grandchildren,” she said. “We have them scattered about on the West Coast and in the middle of the country.”
Freudenthal, a Cody native who was appointed to the bench in 2010 after being nominated for the post by former President Barack Obama in 2009, on Tuesday told to the administrative office of the federal court system that she would be entering senior status on June 1, 2022.
President Joe Biden will be responsible for nominating her successor, but Freudenthal said the timing of her announcement had nothing to do with the party affiliation of the president in office at the time of her change in status.
“I was always planning on taking senior status or retiring when I was able to in order to have more flexibility to see my family,” she said. “Some judges wait until the party favorable to their views is in office, but that wasn’t a factor for me.”
Although a national law publication said Freudenthal was known for looking at cases involving energy, she said that in fact, she has had to avoid many such cases because of her husband’s position as a former governor.
“The reality is I have been conflicted out of a number of energy cases brought to me because of Dave’s tenure as governor,” she said. “I’ve been conflicted out of more energy cases than I’ve heard.”
As a senior judge, Freudenthal will be able to select how many cases she wants to take up, she said.
“I will continue to provide substantial assistance to the district court,” she said. “Taking senior status allows me to select the cases that I want to work on … and those I may not want to.”
Freudenthal, who served as the district court’s chief judge from 2011 to 2018, said she will finish out the cases assigned to her, which she estimated could take a year.
“COVID has stretched out the cases,” she said. “We try to schedule cases within a year for disposition.”
Freudenthal earned her law degree from the University of Wyoming in 1980 and served as an attorney in the offices of former Govs. Ed Herschler and Mike Sullivan from 1980 to 1989.
She served on the Wyoming Board of Equalization from 1989 to 1995 and was in private practice from 1995 until taking her federal court position in 2010.
Her husband served as governor from 2003 to 2011.