Arapahoe County district court judge censured, resigns after using N-word, showing racial bias

20692
Pictured: Arapahoe County District Court Judge Natalie Chase. Photo provided by the Colorado Office of Judicial Evaluation.

AURORA | The Colorado Supreme Court on Friday agreed to publicly censure and accept the forthcoming resignation of an Arapahoe County district court judge found to have used racial slurs around staffers, expressed personal views on social justice while on the bench and used expletives to refer to colleagues, among other infractions.

The justices unanimously issued a six-page order April 16 outlining a litany of accusations against 18th Judicial District Court Judge Natalie Chase and concluding with a stipulation to publicly censure her. The court determined that Chase violated four separate judicial rules, including those related to professionalism and “manifesting bias or prejudice based on race or ethnicity.”

The document, which technically accepted previous sanctions determined by a panel on judicial discipline, lists more than half a dozen instances of misconduct involving Chase in the past year.

A spokesperson for the state court system on Monday clarified that Chase will not work as a judge in the weeks until her resignation, though she will continue to be paid.

In early 2020, Chase, who is white, asked a Black female court staffer “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 and ‘a’ at the end of the word,” according to the order. The staffer, a family court facilitator, told officials that she felt trapped in the conversation as she was returning with Chase in her personal vehicle from a work engagement in Pueblo.

“She has explained that Judge Chase’s use of the full N-word was ‘like a stab through my heart each time,’” the order reads.

Around the same time, Chase opined during a courtroom break that she would be boycotting the Super Bowl as she disagreed with players’ decision to kneel during the National Anthem. She was on the bench and wearing robes while making those comments, and a pair of Black court employees were in the courtroom at the time.

The week after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis last spring, Chase again conversed with Black court employees about the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement across the country. In response to a Black employee attempting to explain motivations behind the movement, “Chase stated that she believes all lives matter,” the order reads.

In other instances last year, law clerks reported that Chase called a fellow judge a “f****** b****” shortly after meeting with her and repeatedly had her staffers rewrite her emails “so they sounded better before the judge sent them off to the intended recipient,” according to the order.

Chase also asked clerks to research a personal legal issue for a member of her family and repeatedly discussed personal matters with staffers, according to the court.

Chase, a former Aurora city attorney, was originally appointed to the bench by former Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2014. She won another six-year term to her seat in Aurora’s largest judicial district in 2016 with more than two-thirds of the vote, according to election records. A state panel on judicial performance that reviews the work of judges prior to elections voted 10-0 to keep her on the bench five years ago.

Chase was admitted to practice law in the state after graduating from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in 2003, according to state records.

Prior to joining the bench, she worked in her own firm, specializing in criminal defense, family law and estate planning.

Chase has apologized to the judiciary and declined to pursue further legal proceedings related to these incidents, according to the order. The court also accepted her resignation, which will take effect in 45 days.

A nominating commission will consider replacements for Chase’s position on the bench on May 18, the state court system announced Monday. The new judge will inherit a salary just north of $173,000 per year.

Justice hawks have hinted at calls to upend the state’s current gubernatorial appointment system for state court judges, with former Democratic state Rep. Joe Salazar suggesting on Twitter that the state senate should have a say in confirming judges in a system mirroring the federal process.

Omar Montgomery, president of the Aurora chapter of the NAACP, said he would welcome state officials looking into the implementation of such a system in Colorado.

”I think taking the power out of just one person’s hands is always good,” he said. “I would just like to see a model that’s been successful.”

Currently, a seven-person commission forwards a smattering of preferred names to the governor’s office after a vetting process. The governor then chooses a finalist, affording them a two-year provisional term as a judge before they face re-election via ballot.

Montgomery added that he would like to see an investigation into Chase’s old cases to determine whether any biases were injected into her application of justice.

”What I would like to see is an investigation of the cases and see if that bias transferred into how a case was managed by this judge,” he said. “I think that’s a fair question to ask.”

 

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sheria Satchell
Sheria Satchell
6 months ago

I have been a Victim of Judge Chase and the racial bias that she has done to me on the record is unprecedented!! I cannot describe to you the pain, injustice, discrimination and RACIAL BIAS she has done to me!! My children were ripped away from me and have suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of Judge Chases rulings. Never has the best interest of my children been the importance that it should have been.
She has threatened me on the record. She has shut me and my Lawyer up in a court of law when we have a constitutional right to speak. She refused to let us speak and defend myself. She has destroyed my family in ways you couldn’t imagine. I Have gone to the NAACP and will continue on moving up the chain of command, from the Supreme Court to the Governor to the President. I am screaming from the top of my lungs and from the top of the Colorado Mountains, JUDGE CHASE IS RACIALLY BIAS AND DISCRIMINATED AGAINST ME ON THE RECORD AND IN A COURT OF LAW!!!
Now, I am invoking my right to freedom of speech. I will make it known what has been done to me and my children in this case, and I want the world to know what’s happened in this case. Even though so many things were done unjustly and directly discriminant against me, and I stuck through it and kept doing the right thing for my boys. But, I knew why, I know why, and I choose to say it out loud. It’s because I’m BLACK!!And I will get my Justice.
It’s not far from a travesty and is a tragedy and one day soon will be my victory!!

Sheria S.

Qa Dub
Qa Dub
6 months ago

I don’t get it. All lives do matter. Blacks do use the N word. Some people do get on your nerves. Many of us think kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful and it has NOTHING to do with race. It’s disrespectful no matter who is doing it.

Tim Conner
Tim Conner
6 months ago
Reply to  Qa Dub

You are correct: You really don’t get it.

Melissa S.
Melissa S.
6 months ago
Reply to  Qa Dub

It’s because she’s a judge, she needs to show that she is fair and impartial, that she doesn’t have an opinion on those things.
The use of the N word is unprofessional is a work environment to use from a boss to an employee.

patricia lillian
6 months ago
Reply to  Qa Dub

Black lives matter NOW. Now we are beginning to learn of the suffering. It’s good to know so we can change it. Kneeling is peaceful and respectful to the principle of humanity the act represents. It worked for voting rights and is the right Way.

Janelle Murphy
Janelle Murphy
6 months ago

Tip of the iceberg. Research County Attorney Tamara White, GAL Ranee Sharsel, & Arapahoe County CPS caseworker Brittany Hooser who worked hand-in-glove (co-conspirators) with Judge Chase in discriminating against parents who were POC. Worst kept secret in the 18th, we all saw these racist outrages on nearly a daily basis.
Want to go down the rabbit hole? Investigate their ties to the Griffith House & what goes on there to those poor children.

Dale G Nichols
Dale G Nichols
6 months ago

Why does her resignation take effect in 45 days? Will she be presiding over trials until then? It sounds like this should take effect in 45 minutes.

C. McCary
C. McCary
6 months ago

Not only is this Judge a blatant racist, she appears to also suffer from some psychological problems. She probably shouldn’t be practicing law. Perhaps she will seek help for herself.

Dennis Duffy
Dennis Duffy
6 months ago

I have always disliked the pro cess of voting for elected judges it just seems to be an automatic reinstatement of a sitting judge without anyone knowing how they rule. There should be some accountability and not from their friends on the bar

patricia lillian
6 months ago

I am Grateful to still be around for this swerve in our ethical platform, and I am an old white lady who got “woke” with the birth of her bi-racial grandson, in Florida. We moved here, thankfully, and Colorado has been in front of the change in attitude I was fearful of – rightfully so – in Brevard County. Here, in white Douglas County, we got to endure much cheesy behavior from entitled children and adults. (You don’t want to ever see the DC high school production in all white, but 1, and ebonics, of “Into The Woods”. It won’t leave my mind. What is it that makes us not feel each other. As a diagnosed depressed woman, I can tell you why I don’t connect, so I think as a country we are depressed as a country, whether white or black or brown.
All humans know there is imbalance on a level. We all have a drive to equalize the soul of our nation, and letting a judge who has no clue is a step. More to come, we can be sure, since that is our programming.

Tina
Tina
5 months ago

I think all of Arapahoe distinct court should be investigated. They do everything illegal and don’t listen to.mothers when their children are getting abused.