A former state court judge whose courtroom misconduct, disciplinary suspension, domestic turmoil and eventual removal from the bench in November 2008 became a rare public spectacle has died in Las Vegas at age 56.
Elizabeth LaMacchia, who was Elizabeth Halverson when she was elected and sworn in to a newly created judicial post in January 2007, died March 1, according to a Southern Nevada Health District death certificate. District spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said she could release no other information.
Attempts to reach LaMacchia’s relatives in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., were unsuccessful Friday.
As a Clark County District Court judge, Halverson served fewer than five turmoil-filled months before she was suspended with her $130,000-per-year salary. Eighteen more months of accusations and public hearings followed before she was removed from her elected position by the state Commission on Judicial Discipline and banned from ever serving again as a judge. By then, she had filed for re-election.
Halverson, who once served as a law clerk for the chief judge with whom she later clashed, blamed the allegations against her on vindictive colleagues and disgruntled staff. She told the commission that she didn’t feel safe in the courthouse.
She was accused of falling asleep during proceedings, tainting juries resulting in at least two mistrials, treating staff members like personal servants and making false statements.
Halverson was obese and used a motorized scooter and supplemental oxygen. She was accused of making her courtroom bailiff massage her back, fetch a blanket when she napped, put shoes on her feet and tend her oxygen supply.
The commission was told she had her court clerk swear in her husband, Edward Halverson, to testify about whether he completed chores at home.
When the bailiff who complained about her was reassigned, Halverson hired her own guards and let them bypass courthouse security. She called 911 to summon Las Vegas police when court administrators tried to enter her office.
She divorced Edward Halverson and returned to using her family name after he was convicted of hitting her with a frying pan during a domestic argument in 2008. Edward Halverson is serving three to 10 years in state prison.