Nev. Judge Suspended, Poses ‘Substantial Threat,’ Commission Finds
Posted Jul 25, 2007 6:55 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A controversial Nevada judge was suspended today by the state Commission on Judicial Discipline, which found that Elizabeth Halverson "poses a substantial threat of serious harm" to the public and the administration of justice.
In a final order of interim suspension filed today, the commission suspended the judge with pay, pending a final determination in a judicial disciplinary proceeding. Substantial evidence presented at a July 16 hearing closed to the public and in pleadings shows that the judge "is without sufficient legal abilities to conduct trials in criminal cases," isn't impartial or diligent, has treated staff badly and subjected them to "a hostile work environment and sexual harassment," doesn't cooperate with other judges and court administrators, and has fallen asleep on the bench at least once, according to the opinion.
Although Nevada law doesn't specify how such a suspension should be handled procedurally, when, like Halverson, a judge is not facing any criminal charge, the commission looked to the law of other states, as well as Nevada Supreme Court precedent. It determined that special counsel must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that interim suspension is justified, "considering the totality of circumstances," today's opinion explains.