Legal Ethics

Judge resigns after demeaning email reference to colleague leads to removal recommendation

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A Colorado appeals court judge has submitted her resignation after a man claiming to be her former lover disclosed her emails with demeaning references.

Judge Laurie Booras announced her Jan. 31 resignation after the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline recommended her removal from office, the Denver Post reports.

One email referred to fellow appeals judge Terry Fox, a Latina, as “the little Mexican.” In another email, Booras referred to her ex-husband’s wife, who is Native American, as “the squaw.”

The Colorado Supreme Court had suspended Booras with pay on March 30 and appointed a three-judge panel to oversee the ethics investigation.

The suspension came after the Denver Post publicized a complaint by the former lover who disclosed the emails and alleged that Booras harassed him after he broke off the relationship. The Denver Post’s previous coverage is here.

Laurie Booras. Photo from the Colorado Court of Appeals.

A lawyer for Booras told the Denver Post that an investigation found she did not stalk or harass the person who made the accusations.

Booras had maintained that the emails were private communications protected by the First Amendment.

But the panel found that the emails violated ethics rules requiring judges to avoid impropriety and to refrain from activities that undermine their integrity.

Booras had written an apology to Fox saying she did not intend to hurt her. But the panel said Booras shouldn’t have used the phrase in the first place.

“Words are the art of an appellate judge who is trained to consider what she is writing before she sends off a written communication containing them,” the panel wrote in a findings document cited by the Denver Post.

Booras also violated judicial ethics rules when she disclosed how she would rule in a case a month before the opinion was released, the panel said.

Booras was appointed to the appeals court in 2009.

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