A Colorado judge agreed to resign after the state Supreme Court censured her for repeatedly using a racial slur and making callous comments to black court workers about police brutality and systemic racism.
A censure order issued Friday by the Colorado Supreme Court shows that Judge Natalie T. Chase of the state’s 18th Judicial District has agreed to resign after disciplinary proceedings against her. His resignation will take effect on May 31.
Judge Chase, 43, who was based in Arapahoe County outside of Denver, was appointed to district court in 2014 by Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who is now a United States Senator.
The Colorado Supreme Court said Justice Chase, who is white, violated her office duties during a series of exchanges last year with black court workers, which she admitted to taking place.
In one episode, she asked a family court facilitator, who is black, why it was okay for blacks to use a racial insult, but not for whites to do so, according to the court order. At the time, in early 2020, the two were returning from a program in Pueblo, Colo., In the judge’s car, with a former court clerk.
“You acknowledge that your use of the N word does not promote public confidence in the justice system and creates the appearance of impropriety,” the Colorado Supreme Court said in the order. “Although not addressed to anyone, saying the N word has a significant negative effect on public confidence in the integrity and respect of the judiciary.”
Justice Chase also asked the unidentified family court facilitator if it made a difference in the way the insult was spelled and used it repeatedly, the Supreme Court said. from Colorado.
“She explained that Judge Chase’s use of the full N word was ‘like a stab in my heart every time,’” the family court facilitator said, in accordance with the censure order.
The Colorado Supreme Court said Justice Chase expressed remorse and apologized for her conduct.
An attorney for Judge Chase, who had previously worked in private practice and served as deputy municipal court judge, declined to comment on Monday.
With her court on hold in February 2020 and justice workers discussing their intention to watch the Super Bowl, per the censorship order, Judge Chase told them she would boycott the game because she opposed NFL players who did. kneeling during the national anthem.
She was still sitting on the bench and wearing her dress when the episode happened, as well as on another episode last spring after George Floyd’s death, according to the censorship order.
As two black court employees discussed the protests, officials said, Judge Chase intervened with her views on racial justice issues and asked one of the employees about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The employee tried to explain the Black Lives Matter movement, and Judge Chase said she believed all lives mattered,” the censure order said, noting that Judge Chase said the conduct Police officers in Mr. Floyd’s death should be investigated.
The Colorado Supreme Court said Justice Chase agreed to waive her right to a formal hearing.
“You acknowledge that you have also undermined confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary by expressing your views on criminal justice, police brutality, race and racial prejudice, particularly by wearing your dress in staff work areas. from the court and from the bench, “the court said.
A judicial nominating commission is expected to interview candidates for Judge Chase’s seat in mid-May and refer three candidates for review to Governor Jared Polis, who will then have 15 days to make an appointment, officials said.
Several judges across the country have lost their posts or have been forced to retire from them due to the use of racist slurs or derogatory language since last year.
In Louisiana, a district court judge resigned in February 2020 after using a racial slur in a series of text messages that have gone public.
In Pennsylvania, an Allegheny County common plea judge resigned last November after facing multiple misconduct charges, including a complaint he called a juror “Aunt Jemima” at a conference post-trial.
In Washington state, a Clark County judge said last month he would take time off the bench after being criticized for making derogatory comments about a black man who had been killed by police.