Halverson appears before grand jury

District Court Judge Elizabeth Halverson appeared exhausted as she sat in a wheelchair outside a courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

Gouges, stapled and stitched, criss-crossed her near-bald head. Her right eye was reddish-purple and barely open.

"I have headaches all the time," the 50-year-old said softly, clearly short of breath. "It’s going to take a while to recover."

In her first public outing since she was beaten with a cast iron skillet Sept. 4, Halverson found herself in the very building that triggered the past 14 nightmarish months of her life: the Regional Justice Center.

Halverson appeared before a grand jury to testify against her 49-year-old husband, Edward Halverson, who has been charged with attempted murder in connection with the attack, which occurred in their home near Tropicana Avenue and U.S. Highway 95.

Elizabeth Halverson spent nearly two hours testifying in a basement courtroom, several floors below the courtroom she left in July 2007 after she was suspended from the bench after allegations of inappropriate behavior.

The irony did not appear to disturb the judge, who in the past year has endured the suspension, a hearing before the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission, an overwhelming defeat in the primary elections and the beating that tore off part of her scalp and left her bleeding profusely.

"You have to do it; you have to go testify," she said matter-of-factly. "That’s it."

With that, two medics helped the judge out the courthouse doors, past news reporters and into a van that transported her back home.

The grand jury is expected to decide whether to indict Edward Halverson this morning.

Elizabeth Halverson spent more than two weeks at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where surgeons inserted more than 100 staples into her head to repair deep lacerations.

She underwent additional tests after doctors thought she was suffering from internal bleeding, said a friend who spent many hours with the judge as she recovered.

The judge placed an eerie 911 call late Sept. 4, shortly after she was attacked. About a minute passed before she spoke her first words to the emergency dispatcher.

"Please, help. Please, help me now," she whispered in a panic. "He’s beating me with a frying pan."

In between pleas for help, she calmly talked to her husband, telling him to clean up the blood on the bedroom floor and asking him to retrieve ice for her battered right eye.

Police finally arrived and called for medical assistance. Edward Halverson was taken into custody that night and remains in the Clark County Detention Center on $113,000 bail.

While recovering from her injuries, Elizabeth Halverson is awaiting a decision from the discipline commission, which heard allegations about her behavior during her tenure as a District Court judge.

She was accused of mistreating her staff, falling asleep on the bench and improperly communicating with jurors. The commission has yet to render a decision.

In August, the incumbent judge garnered less than 10 percent of the votes in the Department 23 primary race, sending opponents Jason Landess and Stefany Miley to November’s general election.

The judge, who has collected her $130,000 salary during her suspension, will officially leave her post at the end of the year.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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