Court administrators will have the ability, if needed, to discipline embattled Family Court Lt. Steve Rushfield for past alleged misconduct after he joins the staff of Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan, officials said Friday.
Mary Ann Price, a spokeswoman for Clark County District Court, which oversees Family Court, said disciplinary proceedings could occur “in consultation” with Sullivan who will have primary authority over Rushfield.
State law says a marshal working for a judge “serves at the pleasure of the judge.”
Rushfield this week stepped down from his position as supervisor over all Family Court marshals amid allegations of abuse and other misconduct detailed in a March 17 Review-Journal story.
He leaves behind a trail of misconduct allegations over a period of years when he joins Sullivan’s courtroom staff on April 8. Sullivan, first elected in 2008, handles juvenile abuse and neglect cases.
The move is considered a demotion for Rushfield, and Price said Rushfield’s base salary will be cut from $77,188 to $59,384 when he starts working for Sullivan.
Court officials, however, are refusing to provide details of how Rushfield, who was under internal investigation and threatened with being fired, was able to swing a deal to take a demotion as Sullivan’s courtroom marshal.
Earlier in the week, Price said Sullivan was asked to take on Rushfield. The judge transferred his current marshal, Michael Gutierrez, to the regular pool of marshals who do other security tasks, including manning the metal detectors outside Family Court.
When Price was pressed for more details about who asked Sullivan to hire Rushfield and how the deal came about, she declined to provide them. Court officials have kept a lid on the deal stating the information is related to confidential personnel matters.
Rushfield’s move was the result of a vote of Family Court judges, who decided Sullivan should take the controversial lieutenant because he ranked low in seniority on the bench, the Review-Journal has learned.
Both Sullivan and Rushfield have declined comment.
Rushfield is suspected of participating in a cover-up of assault allegations against another marshal and was the subject of an internal investigation into allegations he choked a 23-year-old woman restrained in a chair in a holding cell.
The other marshal, Ron Fox, was fired after a hearing master upheld allegations he groped Monica Contreras, 28, who was in Family Court on Aug. 8, 2011, for a brief hearing related to her divorce.
In a courtroom incident captured on videotape, Contreras complained to Hearing Master Patricia Doninger that Fox assaulted her in a nearby witness room under the guise of searching for drugs.
Court officials investigated Rushfield in connection with an incident on May 20, 2010, in which he is alleged to have choked Crystal Williams in a restraining chair.
Williams was at a Family Court hearing to support a friend. After a confrontation with marshals outside the courtroom about her use of a cellphone, she was taken to a holding cell and strapped into the chair.
According to one of the four marshals in the room, Williams was combative and constantly screaming. The marshal, who asked not to be named in fear of retribution, said Rushfield grabbed her by the throat with one hand, shoved her head back and said, “You’re in my house, bitch. Shut the f— up.”
Police were asked to investigate the incident, but in early 2011, detectives with the Criminal Intelligence Section of the Metropolitan Police Department decided the matter was best left for administrative action by the court.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.