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Colorado Judge Who Used Racist Language Censured, Resigns

April 20, 2021, 2:30 PM

A Colorado trial court judge who admitted to using racist language in front of a Black employee and to abusing her position as a judge agreed to be censured and will resign.

Natalie J. Chase failed “to maintain the high standards of judicial conduct required of a judge” by violating several judicial conduct rules, including one prohibiting a judge from showing bias, the Colorado Supreme Court said April 16.

The Arapahoe County District Court judge stipulated to certain facts in exchange for a recommendation of a public censure, and agreed to resign, the court noted in its order.

Chase stipulated that she didn’t intend any racial animus, but that her actions violated judicial conduct rules prohibiting judges from manifesting bias and requiring judges to promote confidence in the judiciary, the court said.

She’s expressed remorse and apologized, it noted.

Chase admitted asking a Black court employee during a car ride to a court function in 2020 “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 court said.

The employee said that Chase’s use of the word felt “‘like a stab through my heart each time.’”

Chase also said she told Black employees that all lives matter while discussing the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis last May, the court said while also noting that she added police conduct in the case should be investigated.

In addition, Chase had court employees assist her with non-work related matters including researching a family legal issue, the court said.

Her behavior “has a significant negative effect on the public’s confidence in integrity of and respect for the judiciary,” the court said.

Her resignation takes effect 45 days from the date of the order.

The case is In re Chase, Colo., No. 21SA91, 4/16/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan in Washington at mstanzione@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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