Saturday, April 17, 2021

A Stab In The Heart

The Colorado Supreme Court accepted a proposed public censure and resignation of a District Court judge on the following stipulation

In late January or early February 2020, Judge Chase, a Family Court Facilitator for the Eighteenth Judicial District, and Judge Chase’s former law clerk attended a Safe Baby Program in Pueblo. Judge Chase drove both court employees in her car to and from Pueblo.

Judge Chase is white and the Family Court Facilitator is Black. 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. During the conversation, Judge Chase used the full N-word a number of times.

The Family Court Facilitator was uncomfortable because she could not leave the car or leave the conversation. The Family Court Facilitator felt angry and hurt by the conversation. She has explained that Judge Chase’s use of the full N-word was “like a stab through my heart each time.” The Family Court Facilitator did not feel free to express her discomfort or emotions due to fear of retaliation by Judge Chase.

In early February 2020, Judge Chase was in court, wearing her robe on the bench during a break while two or three other people were in the courtroom. Two employees in the courtroom were Black. Someone brought up watching the Super Bowl. 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.

On the Monday after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 2020 and Black Lives Matter protests had occurred in Denver, two Black court employees were in Judge Chase’s courtroom. One of them asked the other if they had seen the George Floyd protests. Judge Chase then, while wearing her robe and sitting on the bench, told the employees some of her opinions regarding racial justice issues. Judge Chase asked one employee some questions about the Black Lives Matter movement. The employee tried to explain the Black Lives Matter movement, and Judge Chase stated that she believes all lives matter. Judge Chase also stated that the conduct of the police officers in the George Floyd matter should be investigated.

In early 2020, Judge Chase directed her law clerk to do some legal research related to a personal family legal issue that was unrelated to the Judge’s official case load.

On August 11, 2020, Judge Chase had a medical episode at the courthouse. After courtroom deputies came to her aid, Judge Chase declined an ambulance. She then asked one of the court employees to drive her to the emergency room. After arriving, Judge Chase asked the court employee to stay with her at the hospital. The employee missed a half day of work to accommodate Judge Chase.

Throughout 2020, Judge Chase forwarded personal emails to her clerk and then asked her clerk to edit or rewrite the emails so they sounded better before the Judge sent them off to the intended recipient.

Judge Chase repeatedly discussed personal and family matters while talking with staff and other employees in office work areas and as part of court business in a manner that was not dignified or courteous.

In the first half of 2020, Judge Chase told her clerk she was leaving briefly to meet with another judge. When she returned from the meeting, and the clerk asked how it went, Judge Chase replied with a derogatory reference to the other judge, calling her a “f****** b****.”

(Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink


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