Las Vegas Judge Denies Misconduct Allegations, Cites ADA
Posted Jan 30, 2008 8:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Suspended Las Vegas Judge Elizabeth Halverson, accused of mistreating staff and sleeping during trials, denies misconduct allegations in a formal response filed yesterday.
Halverson claims the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission fails to identify sufficient grounds of judicial misconduct, and does not point to a judicial canon or state law that she violated, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The commission’s formal statement of charges “contains hortatory text which shall not be used to impose discipline,” says the response (PDF posted by LasVegasNow.com).
The conduct alleged “was not willful misconduct, does not involve willful or persistent failure to perform the duties of office, or habitual intemperance,” the response says.
Halverson, who uses a scooter and breathes from an oxygen tank, also claims she is protected by the American With Disabilities Act, reports LasVegasNow.com. She also cites her First Amendment right to free speech and her 14th Amendment right to due process.
Halverson has filed a separate petition that claims the discipline commission violated her due process rights by taking too long to file a complaint against her.
The complaint against Halverson contends she fell asleep on the bench three times, had improper conversations with deliberating jurors, made comments to the media that could have affected a pending case, tried to hack into a computer system to access other employees’ e-mails, and created a hostile work environment for court employees.
The complaint claimed Halverson required her bailiff to heat her meals, keep her water pitcher filled with ice, pick up objects she had deliberately thrown on the floor, and massage her feet and shoulders.
Halverson’s lawyer, Dominic Gentile, won a case in the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down limits on lawyers speaking to the press about a pending case.