Justice of peace won’t hear Halverson beating case

Citing a potential conflict of interest, a Las Vegas justice of the peace declined Tuesday to conduct a bail hearing for the husband of District Judge Elizabeth Halverson.

Edward Halverson, 49, will remain in custody on attempted murder and battery charges, at least until a hearing scheduled for this morning. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron suggested that Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle would assign the case to a District Court judge “not directly connected to this court system.”

Late Tuesday, court officials said that Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Doug Smith will handle the proceedings this morning.

Bennett-Haron said Tuesday that she felt uncomfortable presiding over the hearing because she was subpoenaed to testify before the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline when Halverson appeared before the panel last month. Bennett-Haron was never called to the witness stand.

“Based upon the alleged victim’s current relationship with the court, together with the fact I was subpoenaed to testify during the hearing, I want to avoid any appearance of a conflict,” Bennett-Haron said.

Edward Halverson, who made his appearance via a video connection from the Clark County Detention Center, kept his head bowed and spoke in a soft, shaky voice when he answered Bennett-Haron’s brief questions about his understanding of the proceedings.

Elizabeth Halverson’s mother and sister, who sat in the spectator section, declined to comment after the hearing.

Edward Halverson is accused of repeatedly beating his wife with a frying pan, an assault that left her covered with bruises and bleeding profusely from the head.

Bobbie Tackett, the judge’s longtime friend, said Tuesday that Elizabeth Halverson sat up, but is still struggling to recover. Tackett said the judge lost a significant amount of blood and is expected to have a CAT scan to determine the source of the internal bleeding.

The Halversons have been married since 1998.

Edward Halverson has been arrested at least 10 times in three states on a variety of charges that include breaking and entering and cocaine possession. He was convicted of three felonies and spent four years in prison.

Tackett said Edward Halverson was abusive toward the judge, who has had her share of problems while serving on the Department 23 bench.

Elizabeth Halverson defeated Bill Henderson by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2006. Less than a year later, she was suspended for allegations of misconduct that include falling asleep on the bench, mistreating staff members and improperly communicating with jurors.

The Judicial Discipline Commission has not yet begun deliberating the case. David Sarnowski, the commission’s general counsel and executive director, said Tuesday that attorneys have until Sept. 18 to file written arguments. He said the judge’s medical condition may have a minor impact on the timing of the final ruling.

“There is some prospect it might extend it out a little bit,” Sarnowski said.

Elizabeth Halverson garnered less than 10 percent of the votes in her bid for re-election last month, when the primary election took place during the week following contentious hearings before the discipline commission.

During those hearings, Halverson’s former bailiff, Johnnie Jordan, testified that he heard Elizabeth Halverson say to her husband: “I am sick of your ass. Why don’t you do what … I tell you.”

Tackett said the judge grew frustrated when her husband stopped working after she was elected to the bench. He did little around the house, Tackett said, which contributed to Clark County declaring the Halversons’ yard a public nuisance last year.

Tackett said that although the judge took the heat for the clutter, her unemployed husband is the one who had the time to keep it clean.

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

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