Colo. Judge Admits to Using Racial Slur and Saying ‘All Lives Matter’ Before Resigning
Judge Natalie Chase “expressed remorse, apologized for [her] conduct, and agreed to waive [her] right to a hearing in formal proceedings, to be publicly censured, and to resign [her] position as a Judge"
A Colorado judge has resigned from her post after she said a racial slur multiple times in front of colleagues, and declared that "all lives matter" while discussing Black Lives Matter protests from the courtroom bench.
Natalie Chase, a District Court Judge for the 18th Judicial District, was publicly censured by the Colorado Supreme Court, which issued an order on Friday that revealed her resignation had been accepted.
The order outlined a series of "violations" Chase had committed in her role, and said she admitted to multiple incidents involving racial slurs, derogatory comments and an unprofessional mixing of work and personal life.
The first incident cited took place in late January or early February 2020, when Chase drove herself, her former law clerk and a Black Family Court Facilitator to a program in Pueblo, Colorado, according to the order.
As the group drove back from Pueblo, Chase asked the 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 order said.
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Chase used "the full N-word" multiple times during the conversation, which the facilitator said left her "angry and hurt," per the order.
"She has explained that Judge Chase's use of the full N-word was 'like a stab through my heart each time,'" the order said. "The Family Court Facilitator did not feel free to express her discomfort or emotions due to fear of retaliation by Judge Chase."
Then, that February, Chase was discussing the Super Bowl with several others, including two Black employees, while wearing her robe and sitting on the bench during a break in court, the order said.
Chase said she would be boycotting the event because she "objected to the NFL players who were kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality against Black people," according to the order.
Months later, in May, two Black court employees were in Chase's courtroom discussing Black Lives Matter protests in Denver shortly after the death of George Floyd, the order said.
Again in her robe and from the bench, Chase chimed in to offer her opinions on the movement, and "stated that she believes all lives matter," according to the order, which noted that Chase did also say that the involved police officers' conduct should be investigated.
The order cited other allegations of misconduct, including Chase directing her law clerk to do legal research related to a personal family legal issue, and repeatedly discussing personal and family matters at work "in a manner that was not dignified or courteous."
Chase also called another judge a "f— b—" while talking to her clerk, according to the order.
The order said that Chase "did not intend any racial animus," but acknowledged that her statements violated a rule requiring judges to act in a way that "promotes public confidence in the judiciary," and in a way that manifests "bias or prejudice based on race or ethnicity by word or action."
The order said that Chase has "expressed remorse, apologized for [her] conduct, and agreed to waive [her] right to a hearing in formal proceedings, to be publicly censured, and to resign [her] position as a Judge."
An attorney for Chase, whose resignation will be effective in 45 days, declined to comment when reached by PEOPLE.
Public censure of judges in Colorado is "extremely rare," according to the Denver Post, which reported that just four of the more than 400 working judges were publicly censured between 2010 and 2020.
Chase was appointed to the District Court in July 2014, and oversaw cases involving divorce, post-divorce enforcement and modification and child support matters, according to CNN.
The outlet reported that per a 2016 review by Colorado's Commission on Judicial Performance, Chase received below-average ratings.