Hon. Frank Q. Nebeker
Oral History Text & Documentation
Important Notice: Please consult the agreements below for any restrictions on the use of these materials.
- Complete Oral History Package (1,318 KB)
- Table of Contents
- Agreement: Hon. Frank Q. Nebeker
- Agreement: David W. Allen, Esq.
- Interview No. 1, August 12, 2003
- Interview No. 2, August 19, 2003.
- Interview No. 3, November 20, 2003
- Interview No. 4, May 19, 2004
- Interview No. 5, August 24, 2004
- Interview No. 6, November 23, 2004
- Interview No. 7, July 14, 2005 [Sealed]
- Interview No. 8, October 16, 2006
- Interview No. 9, October 25, 2006
- Interview No. 10, July 9, 2008
- Biographical Sketch: Hon. Frank Q. Nebeker
- Biographical Sketch: David W. Allen, Esq.
- Cases Cited
Frank Q. Nebeker: Three-time Appellate Judge and Ethicist
By David W. Allen
Based on Judge Frank Q. Nebeker’s Oral History for the D.C. Circuit Historical Society
Judge Frank Q. Nebeker’s career has always involved public service. Most noteworthy perhaps, in 1987, after serving eighteen years as an Associate Judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, he was appointed to be the Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, a post he held for two years. He was then appointed to be the first Chief Judge of the newly established United States Court of Veterans Appeals, where he served for eleven years. In 2000, he returned to the D.C. Court of Appeals as a Senior Judge and has continued to hear and help decide cases there.
As Director of the Office of Government Ethics, he was faced with a challenging matter already receiving public attention. There were allegations of conflicts of interest on the part of Attorney General Edwin Meese; an independent counsel had investigated and issued a report declining prosecution; and Mr. Meese had claimed exoneration and left the government. Judge Nebeker concluded that the matter was not moot, because a primary purpose of the Ethics Office was educational, and he directed his staff to prepare a statement of facts not in dispute. He then issued his Office’s opinion informing the Department of Justice and the public of ethical lapses that, while not warranting prosecution, were nonetheless not to be ignored.
Judge Nebeker’s account of the formation of the Court of Veterans Appeals is both funny and seriously informative. If you’ve ever wondered how a new government agency finds office space and furniture and then gets funds flowing from the Treasury to pay staff, Judge Nebeker has done it. It was a bit of a do-it-yourself project, and he tells you how it’s done. As chief of a new appellate tribunal during its formative years, Judge Nebeker applied his long-felt concerns for fairness and openness in the process of rendering decisions that affect individuals’ important interests, while at the same time managing the new court’s large flow of cases expeditiously.
Judge Nebeker was born in Ogden, Utah in 1930 and spent his early life there. The law was in his background, as he was the son of a local trial court judge and great nephew of an Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. He attended Weber College and completed college and a year of law school at the University of Utah before marrying a high school and college classmate and moving to Washington, D.C. He completed law school at American University while working in the correspondence unit of the Eisenhower White House.