DECEMBER 09, 2009
A scandal-plagued Nevada judge removed from the bench for sleeping during trials, tainting juries and abusing her position has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars for defaming her legal assistant who claims she was bullied and terrorized.
The saga of ousted Las Vegas District Court Judge Elizabeth Halverson, who also made headlines for getting attacked by her husband with a frying pan, seems to be never ending. Last year the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline terminated Halverson for severe judicial misconduct that includes treating her court staff like personal servants and snoozing through substantial portions of criminal and civil trials.
During a two-week hearing, the state panel heard dozens of complaints and found the disgraced judge, elected to the bench in 2006, guilty of sleeping during hearings, making improper contact with jurors, mistreating her staff, improperly hiring two bodyguards and making improper and misleading statements to the media. The commission also found that there was sufficient evidence that Halverson slept during parts of at least two criminal and one civil trial.
She also made her bailiff put on her shoes, massage her back and cover her with a blanket for naps. Halverson is obese and uses a motorized scooter to get around as well as oxygen. Court employees say she was nasty and demanded royal treatment. In the midst of the saga, Halverson got attacked by her husband with a frying pan. The wound on the judge’s scalp required 100 staples.
This week the ousted Clark County jurist was ordered to pay her former legal assistant $50,000 in compensatory damages for defaming her with public accusations that she fixed traffic tickets. The former assistant said in court documents that the judge “dragged her name through the mud” and “falsely labeled” her as someone who engaged in illegal and corrupt acts.
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