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Family Law in the news: colorado judicial branch in the spotlight
Family Law in the news: colorado judicial branch in the spotlight

The Colorado legal system doesn’t show up in the national news very often.  Unfortunately, on recent occasions, CNN has had something to say about our judicial branch.  In particular, two judges have resigned in the last year.  Judge Ryan Kamada was publicly censured in December 2020 after he spread confidential information among friends and tipped off an acquaintance about a search warrant.  Judge Natalie Chase was publicly censured last week after using racist language on and off the bench, and for engaging in racially-charged conversations with staff.

I have appeared before both these judges, and of course, now I think back to those cases. Would a divorce or parenting time dispute have had a different outcome in front of a different judge?  Did the judges’ choices that led to resignations and disbarment also taint their judgment in all areas of their work?  Even if so, is there anything to be done?  I haven’t been in front of Kamada or Chase recently, and my older cases have been resolved.

As an attorney and a litigator, I have tremendous respect for the magistrates and judges I work before.  Especially in family law, the law itself is a blunt tool.  If a family law case gets to trial, it’s the work of the judge or magistrate to divide up the marital estate and make one life into two.  More importantly, it’s to set the rules that parents will use in raising their children.  These are not easy jobs in the best of cases, and permanent orders hearings involve the most challenging cases.  However, part of advocating for my clients is to keep an eye out for what is happening at the bench.  There may be a simple contradiction in an order, or a missed provision, and it’s better to have a clear order from the beginning.  More seriously, there may be an inappropriate bias or another bigger problem.  I hope never to see anything like what’s happened recently, but if I do, I’ll be there for my clients.

Article Links for Additional Information:

Judge Ryan Kamada:

Colorado Supreme Court publicly censures ex-judge who tipped off friend to drug investigation

Judge Natalie Chase:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/19/us/colorado-judge-resigns-trnd/index.html

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