Former Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Halverson's long shot bid to return to the bench was officially denied Monday when the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed a 2008 decision by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline that permanently removed her from the bench.
"We hold that sufficient clear and convincing evidence was introduced to conclude that Judge Halverson committed willful misconduct in violation of multiple provisions of the Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct," wrote the justices in an order of affirmance signed by Chief Justice Michael Douglas and four other justices. "These violations were serious and justify the discipline imposed."
The justices found Halverson's own testimony was not believable.
"This lack of credibility and an apparent unwillingness to admit mistakes, combined with sufficient evidence of willful misconduct, lead us to conclude that Judge Halverson cannot serve as a judge."
The high court suggested Halverson's lack of experience could have been addressed through training had she admitted her mistakes and learned from them. But since she refused to acknowledge her behavior was unacceptable, both the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline and high court had no choice in the matter.
Citing a New Mexico case, the court wrote, "Under such circumstances, to allow a judge who is not truthful to remain on the bench betrays the public trust and threatens the integrity and independence of the judiciary as a whole."
In a 2008 disciplinary hearing that lasted seven days, Halverson faced 14 counts alleging judicial misconduct, including sleeping in court, abusing staff, having inappropriate contact with jurors, allowing private security personnel in her chambers, making untrue statements to the media about other judges, and refusing to cooperate with former Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle.
The commission found that she did indeed fall asleep in court on three occasions in separate cases. She also was found guilty of improper contact with a jury in two separate trials and removing her marshal and hiring two unlicensed bodyguards in his stead.
The most shocking allegations involved mistreatment of her staff, whom she pelted with profanities and required her bailiff to massage her neck, feet and shoulders, according to testimony at her hearing.
The commission also found Halverson lied to a reporter regarding an administrative matter and that she falsely accused three judges of conspiring against her.
Also in 2008, Halverson's then-husband, Edward Halverson, attacked her and struck her in the head with a skillet, opening a wound that required 100 staples to close. He is serving three to 10 years at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City for beating his wife.
Contact Doug McMurdo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.