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Arapahoe County District Court judge to resign after using N-word, expressing personal views in court

Colorado Supreme Court
Posted at 10:51 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 00:51:05-04

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court has accepted Eighteenth Judicial District Court Judge Natalie Chase's resignation after complaints of her using the N-word, discussing racial justice issues while on the bench and asking court employees to help with personal tasks.

According to court documents, in late January or early February 2020, Chase, who is white, drove her former law clerk and a Family Court Facilitator, who is Black, to and from a Safe Baby Program in Pueblo. During the car ride, Chase asked the facilitator why white people can't use the N-word and Black people can and whether it was different to say the N-word with an "er" or an "a" at the end of the word, the document says. Chase said the full racial slur multiple times during the conversation, and the facilitator said she was "uncomfortable because she could not leave the car or leave the conversation," the document says.

In another incident in early February 2020 described in the document, Chase was said to be in her court robe on the bench during a break with a few people in the courtroom when she said she would be boycotting the Super Bowl because she "objected to the NFL players who were kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality against Black people."

The document describes another incident the Monday after George Floyd was killed in May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While Chase was on the bench with two Black court employees in the courtroom, who were discussing recent protests in Denver, she asked them questions about the Black Lives Matter movement and "stated that she believes all lives matter." She also said she thought the conduct of the officers involved in the George Floyd incident should be investigated.

Three other incidents in the court document dealt with Chase asking court employees to assist in personal business. She directed a clerk to do legal research on a personal family legal issue in early 2020 and asked her clerk to rewrite personal emails "so they sounded better," the document says. She also asked a court employee to drive her to the emergency room when she had a medical episode and asked the employee to stay with her at the hospital, causing the employee to miss a half a day of work, according to the document.

In another incident during the first half of 2020, Chase went to a meeting with another judge and when she returned and the clerk asked how it went, she replied with a derogatory, profane reference to the judge, the document says.

According to the document, Chase expressed remorse, apologized for her conduct and agreed to waive her right to a hearing in formal proceedings.

The Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline recommended the approval for public censure and the commission accepted her resignation from her position, effective May 31. She has been in the position since July 2014.

This comes as the highest branch of Colorado’s Judicial Department is facing allegations of sexual harassment, sexism and payoffs to silence witnesses. Chief Justice Brian Boatright called for an independent investigation into the alleged misconduct.