May 23, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Proper Sanction for Judge’s Improper Communications Is Acceptance of Resignation, Censure, and Payment of Costs

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of Laurie A. Booras on Monday, March 11, 2019.

Judicial Discipline—Sanctions.

In this judicial disciplinary proceeding, the supreme court considered the exceptions of a now-former Colorado Court of Appeals judge to the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline’s (Commission’s) recommendation that the judge be removed from office and ordered to pay the costs the Commission incurred in this matter.

The Commission’s recommendation was based on factual findings and conclusions of law determining that the judge had violated Canon 1, Rule 1.2, Canon 3, Rule 3.1, and Canon 3, Rule 3.5 of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct by (1) disclosing confidential information belonging to the court of appeals (namely, the vote of a court of appeals division on a case prior to the issuance of the decision in that case) to an intimate, non-spousal partner, and (2) using inappropriate racial epithets in communications with that intimate partner, including a racially derogatory reference to a court of appeals colleague.

The supreme court concluded that the Commission properly found that the judge’s communications with the judge’s then-intimate partner were not protected by the First Amendment. The court further concluded that, given the judge’s resignation, which the judge tendered and which became effective after the Commission made its recommendation, the court need not decide whether the judge’s removal from office was an appropriate sanction. Rather, the court concluded that the appropriate sanction in this case is the acceptance of the judge’s resignation, the imposition of a public censure, and an order requiring the judge to pay the Commission’s costs in this matter.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.