Colorado District Judge resigns following censure for her repeated use of the N-word in the workplace

Colorado District Judge Natalie Chase has resigned following censure by the Colorado Supreme Court for her repeated use of the N-word and other racially-charged violations in the workplace.

Appointed in 2014 to Colorado’s 18th Judicial District Court by Governor John Hickenlooper, Chase tendered her formal resignation on Friday, agreeing to step down amid accusations from multiple co-workers of racist and otherwise inappropriate behavior. The Colorado Supreme Court has officially accepted Chase’s resignation and she will officially step down next month. The public censure of Chase is a rarity in Colorado, a state which has only publicly censured four people in its history, keeping most of its admonishments private. The CSC said in the order censuring Chase that she failed ‘to maintain the high standards of judicial conduct required of a judge.’

Court documents detail instances where Chase, who is white, repeatedly used the N-word in the presence of black co-workers. One colleague, the Family Court Facilitator, detailed a particular account during which they were driving back from a work-related event in Pueblo, and she began questioning them about why black people can use the N-word, but not white people. The documents stated, “On the way back from Pueblo, 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 colleague who described the event explained that Judge Chase’s use of the full N-word was ‘like a stab through my heart each time,’ but that she did not stand up to Chase at the time due to fear of some kind of retaliation. Other co-workers have complained of other controversial comments by Chase that pertained to race issues. At one time, Chase told a group of co-workers, some of whom were black, that she would be boycotting the NFL because she disagreed with players kneeling for the anthem to protest police brutality brought on by racism. In the wake of the George Floyd killing in 2020, some black colleagues were overheard discussing the incident by Chase, who was sitting on the judicial bench in her robe at the time, according to court documents. Chase began asking them questions about the Black Lives Matter movement, and in response to their explanations Chase then told them she believed that “all lives matter” and added that the actions of the officers in the Floyd incident “should be investigated.” 

In addition to her racially-controversial statements, Chase was also accused of referring to another judge as a “f*****g b***h” in a discussion with a clerk. Not denying any of the accusations, Chase agreed to resign on Friday after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled she had “undermined confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary by expressing [her] views about criminal justice, police brutality, race and racial bias, specifically while wearing [her] robe in court staff work areas and from the bench.” Chase responded to the findings of the CSC and in a statement admitted that her use of the N-word “does not promote public confidence in the judiciary and creates the appearance of impropriety.” Chase insisted, however, she did “not intend any racial animus” but acknowledged her actions violated a rule “which requires a judge to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary.” Her resignation will officially take place next month.





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