Halverson's illness halts discipline hearing; forum rescheduled


District Judge Elizabeth Halverson's disciplinary hearing was halted Friday after she suffered a hypoglycemic attack and became ill, her attorney said.

Halverson suffered the attack Friday morning after testifying for about an hour. Her attorney, Michael Schwartz, told the seven members of the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission that she was nauseated but that he expected the hearing could continue after Halverson stabilized her blood sugar level. The commission agreed to take an hourlong break.

Halverson, 50, returned from the lunch break looking pale, lethargic and sickly. She told the commissioners that she wanted to continue testifying even though her attorney had advised her to stop.

"I'm better than when I was when the attack happened. I'm not 100 percent," she said.

But Schwartz said Halverson wasn't up to finishing the hearing.

"I don't think she wants to admit, even to herself, that she is under the weather," he said.

The commission rescheduled the hearing to continue on Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The commissioners couldn't resume the hearings before Thursday because they had prior commitments.

Next Thursday, Halverson and her attorneys are also scheduled to appear in federal court, where they will ask U.S. District Judge Robert Jones to grant an injunction on her behalf.

She has argued that the disciplinary hearing is depriving her of her right to due process. If the preliminary injunction is granted, the disciplinary hearing could be halted.

Halverson is facing 14 counts of misconduct. She is accused of mistreating staff, improperly communicating with jurors during trials and falling asleep on the bench, among other charges. She has been suspended from the bench since July 2007 and has continued to collect her $130,000 annual pay. She is running for re-election.

If the discipline commission finds there is enough evidence to prove misconduct, commissioners could have Halverson removed from office.

Halverson is obese and suffers from various medical conditions, including diabetes, Crohn's disease and the after-effects of cancer. During a 2007 meeting with Review-Journal editors and reporters, Halverson said she has difficulty walking, uses oxygen to assist her breathing, has suffered from congestive heart failure and experienced severe hypoglycemic attacks.

Hypoglycemia is characterized by low glucose levels in the blood and is often associated with diabetes. Symptoms include shakiness, clamminess and feelings of anxiety. It can impair mental functions.

Despite Friday's attack, Halverson said she is physically fit to be a judge. After the hearing ended, she told reporters that people who suffer from diabetes aren't prevented from running for office.

Schwartz also said Halverson always performed her duties on the bench. He said her health issues didn't prevent her from carrying out her work as a judge. Like everyone, Halverson may get sick from time to time, he said.

But he said she's no different from anyone else in the work force, he said.

"Robots maybe don't get sick," he said. "Judge Halverson's not a robot."

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

 

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