Eighteenth Judicial District - District Court Judge
Honorable Natalie T. Chase
Retention Year: 2016
Recommendation: Meets Performance Standard
The Eighteenth Judicial District Commission on Judicial Performance unanimously recommends by a vote of 10-0 that Judge Natalie T. Chase BE RETAINED.
Judge Natalie T. Chase was appointed to the District Court on July 1, 2014. Prior to her appointment, Judge Chase was in private practice as a co-owner of Shafer & Chase, LLC, specializing in criminal defense, domestic relations and estate planning. Prior to forming her own firm, Judge Chase was a prosecutor for the City of Aurora. She received her law degree from the University of Denver in 2003 after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver in 2000. Judge Chase has been actively involved in the Colorado Bar Association, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and the Colorado Women’s Bar Association. She has also served on the boards of the Arapahoe County Bar Association and as the chair of the 18th Judicial District Access to Justice Committee.
Before recommending the retention of Judge Chase, the Commission conducted extensive research, including a personal interview with Judge Chase, reviewing opinions she authored, observing her in court, reviewing surveys sent to attorneys and non-attorneys, reading letters submitted by interested persons, and studying her self-evaluation. Judge Chase received higher marks than the average from Colorado Appellate Court Judges. Of the 106 attorneys who completed the survey, 64% recommended that she be retained, 27% recommended that she not be retained and 10% made no recommendation. Of the 58 non-attorneys who completed the survey, 70% recommended that she be retained, 22% recommended that she not be retained and 9% made no recommendation. (These percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.)
Judge Chase has presided over a 100% domestic docket, handling matters such as divorce, post-divorce enforcement and modification, and child support matters. Based on the survey results, Judge Chase received ratings below the average of all district court judges standing for retention including case management, application and knowledge of law, communications and demeanor. Though Judge Chase’s scores were concerning, the Commission is cognizant of the steep learning curve for a new district court judge. Additionally, the docket for the division to which Judge Chase was appointed was severely back-logged when she took it over and in just two years, she has entirely resolved that back-log. The observations, survey comments and letters strongly support a conclusion that Judge Chase is a very hard-working judge who comes to court prepared; exhibiting familiarity with the issues, the law and the arguments at the time the hearing begins. Judge Chase has actively addressed reported weaknesses in her performance, including voluntarily identifying an experienced mentor judge, requests for observation and comment, and opening lines of communication with attorneys who may appear before her. The Commission applauds those active efforts by Judge Chase and believes that she will solidify her position as a productive and respected judge within the 18th Judicial District. The Commission recommends that Judge Chase continue the voluntary performance plan that she has already begun. The Commission recommends that she be retained.