Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline suspends Judge Halverson
The Nevada Supreme Court notes that the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline entered a final order of interim suspension today, Juyly 25, 2007, with respect to Judge Elizabeth Halverson. The Court finds that the Order is a public document.
The 29-page order provides that Judge Halverson is suspended from the exercise of office pending a final determination of judicial discipline proceedings. My brief review of the order reveals the following:
at pg. 8 - The Commission concludes that the Special Counsel must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that interim suspension is warranted, considering the totality of the circumstances.
at pg. 10 - The Commission offers a justification for its decision to deny Judge Halverson's request to issue subpoenaes to 7 witnesses and to make document production requests of those witnesses.
at pg. 12 - The Commission explains that Judge Halverson was not harmed by the late delivery of certain documents because she was not entitled to them at this stage of the proceedings.
at pg. 14 - the Commission notes its findings which led it to makes its initial order of interm suspension. It made 6 findings based upon the complaint. Based upon the evidence presented at the hearing by the Special Counsel and Judge Halverson at the July 16th hearing, the Commission finds that there was sufficient proof only as to items 1, 2, 3 and 5:
Additional details are set forth below the jump:
1. There is substantial evidence to believe that Judge Halverson is without sufficient legal abilities to conduct trials in criminal cases without threat of serious harm to the public or the administration of justice;
2. There is substantial evidence to believe that Judge Halverson has failed to perform the duties of judicial office impartially and diligently in that there is substantial evidence that she has not treated staff and litigants with patience, dignity or courtesy. Further, there is substantial evidence that she has treated staff to a hostile work environment and sexual harassment to the extent that there is a serious threat to the administration of justice;
3. There is substantial evidence that Judge Halverson has failed to diligently perform her duties by falling asleep at least on one occasion and possible more while on the bench during a jury trial;
5. There is substantial evidence to believe that Judge Halverson failed to diligently carry out the duties of her office and fail[ed] to cooperate with other judges and court administrators[.]
pg. 15 - The Commission discusses testimony introduced at the hearing. Issues addressed included ex parte contact with jurors and assignment of only civil cases by Chief Judge Hardcastle.
pg. 17 - The Commission notes the high number of peremptory challenges against Judge Halverson in civil cases and indicates that this reveals an unease about her ability to handle civil matters.
pg. 18 - "While the Commission believes that Judge Halverson's handling of criminal matters is troublesome to the point of warranting suspension, the Commission also believes that her handling of personnel matters is even more problematic." Details of allegations by court personnel are set forth at length. If the allegations are true, it's not good.
pg.21 - The Commission notes a pattern of dictatorial and domineering behavior toward staff members
pg. 22 - The Commission notes the possibility of state or county liability for acts of racial, religious and sexual insensitivity and possible other tortious acts.
pg. 23 - The allegation of sleeping in court constitutes a partial basis for the interim suspension
pg. 24 - Sufficient proof exists to support the claim that Judge Halverson failed to cooperate with other judges and court administrators.
pg. 26 - Judge Halverson is suspended on an interim basis, with pay. The order is effective as of 5 p.m. today.