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A Colorado judge has resigned after repeatedly using the N-word while talking to a black court official and proclaiming “all lives matter” in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-involved death.
Colorado District Judge Natalie T. Chase agreed to step down from the bench Friday after she was censured by the Colorado Supreme Court for her comments.
In a 6-page order, the court said Chase, who is white, failed to “maintain the high standards of judicial conduct required of a judge.”
In a separate incident early last year while driving two court employees from a training session in Pueblo, Chase asked a family court facilitator, who is black, why people of color “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,” according to the order.
Chase used the “full N-word” several times” during the conversation, leaving the black court facilitator trapped in the car while angered and dismayed, the order states.
“She has explained that Judge Chase’s use of the full N-word was ‘like a stab through my heart each time,” according to the order, adding that the woman felt compelled to keep quiet due to fears of retaliation.
Chase later asked two black court employees in May 2020 about their feelings on the Black Lives Matter movement as they discussed Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, which prompted protests nationwide, including in Denver.
“Judge Chase then, while wearing her robe and sitting on the bench, told the employees some of her opinions regarding racial justice,” according to Friday’s order. “The employee tried to explain the Black Lives Matter movement, and Judge Chase stated that she believes all lives matter.”
However, Chase also acknowledged that she believed the conduct of the Minneapolis police officers should be probed.
But the judge also made her personal views apparent months earlier in February 2020 during a courtroom break as a discussion turned to the Super Bowl in front of two black employees, according to the order.
“Judge Chase then stated, from the bench, that 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 order states.
Chase insisted she didn’t intend any “racial animus” with her use of the racial slur, but acknowledged using it had a “significant negative effect on the public’s confidence in integrity and respect for judiciary,” the order states.
The resignation of Chase, who became a judge in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District in 2014, formally takes effect 45 days from Friday’s order. She has “expressed remorse” and apologized for her actions while waiving her right to a formal hearing.
Just four judges had been publicly censured in Colorado between 2010 and 2020, according to the Denver Post.
An attorney for Chase did not respond to a request seeking comment by the newspaper Friday.
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