Judge resigns after referring to colleague as ‘the little Mexican’
An appeals court judge in Colorado who admitted referring to a fellow jurist as “the little Mexican” has resigned from the bench.
Judge Laurie A. Booras has agreed to step down on Jan. 31 after the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline recommended her removal on three judicial code violations, according to a letter she sent to Colorado Supreme Court Justice Nathan Coats that was obtained by the Denver Post.
Booras was suspended with pay last March after the newspaper reported allegations by a man who claimed to be Booras’ former lover. The man, John Sakowicz, of California, alleged that Booras had stalked him and sent their private emails to his wife after he ended their 10-year affair.
A three-judge panel then unanimously ruled that Booras violated three canons of judicial conduct in three emails she sent in 2017 to Sakowicz, messages that she admitted sending but claimed were private and protected by the First Amendment.
In one email dated Feb. 22, 2017, Booras referred to fellow Appeals Court Judge Terry Fox as “the little Mexican,” violating a canon prohibiting judges from activities that undermine their integrity, independence or impartiality, the three-judge panel found.
Fox, who is a Latina, later testified that she felt “subhuman” upon learning of Booras’ comment.
“She provided powerful, compelling testimony about how she had to overcome obstacles her entire life due to the prejudice of others, yet she never expected to be subjected to racist remarks from a fellow judge on the Court of Appeals,” the judges wrote.
Booras apologized to Fox in a letter months later, saying she didn’t intend to hurt her.
“There is no justification for using the phrase,” Booras wrote to Fox.
The three-judge panel, however, was unmoved by Booras’ explanation.
“Nonetheless, 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 judges wrote.
Booras, who was appointed to the appeals court in 2009, also violated a canon stating that judges should avoid impropriety and show impartiality when she referred to her ex-husband’s Native American wife as “the squaw,” the Denver Post reports.
Booras’ current term was set to expire in 2021, KDVR reports.
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