Josephine Harvey·Reporter, HuffPost-Tue, April 20, 2021, 4:08
Colorado District Court Judge Natalie Chase resigned last week after the Colorado Supreme Court censured her for using racial slurs, making racially insensitive comments and performing a range of other inappropriate behavior at work.
Chase agreed to step down Friday following the public censure. She did not dispute any of the incidents.
According to the order, Chase, who is white, repeatedly used a racial slur during a conversation with a Black court employee early last year.
“Judge Chase asked the Family Court Facilitator questions about why Black people can use the N-word but not white people, and whether it was different if the N-word is said with an ‘er’ or an ‘a’ at the end of the word,” the document stated. “During the conversation, Judge Chase used the full N-word a number of times.”
Several days after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May 2020, Chase overheard two Black court employees in her courtroom discussing the subsequent protests, the order said. When one employee tried to explain the Black Lives Matter movement, Chase, who was wearing her robe and sitting on the bench, told the staffers that she believes all lives matter. She added that she believed the police officers involved should be investigated.
On a separate occasion in February last year, Chase said she would boycott the Super Bowl because she objected to the NFL players who were kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against Black people. She was in court and on the bench during a recess at the time.
The Supreme Court order also indicated that on multiple occasions, Chase was unprofessional around her colleagues and instructed court staffers to do personal tasks for her. This included asking a clerk to rewrite her personal emails so that they “sounded better” and requesting that a court employee drive her to the hospital and stay there with her after she had a medical episode and declined an ambulance.
The order said that while Chase maintained that she “did not intend any racial animus,” she acknowledged that her statements violated the requirement for a judge to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary. Chase apologized, expressed remorse and agreed to waive her right to a formal hearing. Her resignation is effective May 31.
Public censure of a Colorado judge is extremely rare; it has happened only four times between 2010 and 2020, the Denver Post noted. The newspaper published an investigation last year about allegations of misconduct against nearly two dozen judges in the state.
Several other judges around the country have faced discipline in recent years over racism in the courtroom. In March, a Washington judge took time off after he was heard on video saying a Black man killed by police had a death wish and was “so dumb.” And last year, a Louisiana district judge resigned after admitting to using the N-word multiple times in text messages.