Suspended District Judge Elizabeth Halverson returned to the Regional Justice Center on Friday — for jury duty.
While waiting for an assignment, Halverson, who can’t roll through the courthouse on her motorized scooter without attracting attention, turned quite a few heads, including those of several prosecutors at the district attorney’s office, which is on the same floor as the jury service room.
Las Vegas lawyers: If you’re hoping to have Halverson on your jury, sorry. Her Honor wound up being assigned to a civil trial that was subsequently postponed, “bringing an abrupt halt to her brief public service on the other side of the bench.” Suspended judge can’t even get out of jury duty [Las Vegas Sun]
Judge Elizabeth Halverson has graced stomped through these pages many times before. But this is her first appearance of 2008. The LA Times recounts some Halverson highlights:
Her former bailiff said he was forced to heat and serve her lunch, check the temperature of her ice water, brush lint from her robe, help her put on her shoes, massage her neck and cover her with a blanket before her nap.
An assistant said Halverson, of the 8th Judicial District Court, made her answer questions — under oath — about courthouse gossip.
She’s been stripped of her criminal cases. She has been suspended with pay. She has a hearing this month that may result in her being removed from the bench. But she’s STILL running for reelection. We apologize to Halverson fans out there, but we will not be running a “Re-Elect Halverson” campaign, even if she does provide great blog fodder…
Halverson also referred to her husband as “Evil Ed,” her former bailiff testified, and told Jordan to “pull out your gun and shoot him.”
“I’ll dispose of the body,” Jordan quoted the judge as saying.
Halverson’s newer staffers told commissioners she acted respectfully and professionally. But commissioners said that didn’t excuse her treating Jordan and others in a “truly bizarre and inappropriate manner.”
Two people are challenging the suspended judge in the August election. Halverson said she entered the race because community members encouraged her to hold onto her judgeship.
“Do I think the public will see the truth about me?” she said. “Yes, I do.”
Hello and good morning everyone. This is Billy Merck once again (yes, yes, “we hate you” and so forth; get it all out on the first post), filling in for Lat today. Don’t worry, we’re still going to be on the lookout for associate bonus announcements, so send them in if they happen and we’ll get them up pronto.
But we don’t know of any new announcements yet this morning, so we’ll start with an update on your favorite Nevada state judge, the immeasurable Elizabeth Halverson.
Yesterday the Nevada Supreme Court upheld an interim suspension of Judge Halverson by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. The slip opinion can be accessed here.
Our favorite part is the section dealing with Halverson’s propensity for falling asleep on the bench:
The deputy district attorney in the child molestation case testified that Judge Halverson had fallen asleep on the bench during the trial testimony before the jury. According to this witness, by that time, Judge Halverson had generated a reputation for falling asleep on the bench. Additionally, Judge Halverson’s former bailiff testified that Judge Halverson fell asleep on the bench virtually every day. Although the former JEA’s testimony did not reflect that Judge Halverson consistently slept while on the bench, the former JEA did testify that she had seen Judge Halverson dozing on a few occasions, and that on one occasion, she was called in by the former bailiff and a former court clerk because they could not awaken her.
With respect to this one occasion, the former bailiff and former JEA gave differing accounts as to Judge Halverson’s views on why she had fallen asleep. The former bailiff testified that she claimed that her blood pressure “must be going up” and that she “did not feel well.” The former JEA testified that Judge Halverson blamed the problem on medication “that did not agree with her” and also on the former JEA’s failure to “let her take a long enough nap” in chambers before trial proceedings recommenced. Judge Halverson did not testify at the hearing, but she did submit an affidavit to the Commission, which indicated that she lapsed into slumber on one occasion because of low blood sugar arising from her diabetes and her failure to eat. Although the record demonstrates that the occasion of sleeping described in Judge Halverson’s affidavit did not occur during the criminal trial, as depicted by the deputy district attorney, the record does not specify whether or not this instance of sleeping was the same as that described by Judge Halverson’s former staff.
The only testimony contradicting the testimony about Judge Halverson’s propensity to sleep while on the bench was the statement given by the JEA working for Judge Halverson at the time of the hearing that, in her two months with the judge, she had never seen the judge fall asleep on the bench.
The Commission’s written order noted that one confirmed occasion of falling asleep on its own would not warrant an interim suspension, but that when added to the other conduct, her sleep issues formed part of the basis for its decision. Additionally, the Commission noted that although a physical reason could explain Judge Halverson’s sleep issues, the judge had not offered any proof regarding the possible etiology of this tendency.
Come on, Halverson, don’t let pride make a fool of you. We suspect there are “physical reasons” for most of your difficulties. You should have embraced this as an ADA case, and you probably would’ve been able to stay on the bench.
As it is, you’re just obnoxious and large, and most definitely not in charge. Prior ATL Halverson coverage Slip opinion upholding Halverson’s suspension [Nevada Supreme Court (PDF)]
Since the lastcoverage of her on ATL, the Energizer-bunny-esque Judge Elizabeth Halverson has been ordered on the inactive list by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline.
Following an emotional plea by Halverson in a rare television interview, and a similar public plea by two sexy ex-Halverson staffers (a law clerk and a secretary), the hearing transcripts have been released by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal published a story this morning that basically places the final nail in the 425 500 lb jurist’s cavernous coffin career:
District Judge Elizabeth Halverson’s former bailiff testified that she fell asleep daily in court and frequently told him to shoot her husband, according to transcripts of a closed-door hearing that were made public Wednesday.
Yes, you read that right: “frequently told him to shoot her husband.”
(Dozing off on the bench is no big deal. Some highly regarded judges do it all the time.)
The balance of the insanity, after the jump.
* Can you invoke the Fifth Amendment if you’re a juror being voir dired? [Southern District of Florida Blog]
* When it comes to the administrative state, you can run but you can’t hide. [DealBreaker]
* The Elizabeth Halverson saga rolls on — and social studies teachers are grateful for the judicial soap opera: “My high school students have never read the newspaper with such genuine excitement before… So please, let Judge Halverson stay on the bench, just a little bit longer.” [ABA Journal]
* Who’s up for an Italian sausage grinder? [New York Post]
Jane Ann Morrison, columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, had a column yesterday that put quite a smackdown on two-time Judge of the Day Elizabeth Halverson (see her previous honors here and here). Along with some catty renditions of some of the facts we already knew (like the fact that Judge Halverson’s pre-judicial legal experience apparently consists of 9 years as a state court law clerk, getting FIRED from that job, losing her first election, and then somehow winning her second), Morrison provides some of the juicy details of the hefty judge’s outrageous behavior that led to her needing her own security force in the first place.
From the column:
Halverson spent nine years as a fairly lowly law clerk. (I always assumed the 425-pound woman, according to her driver’s license, stayed as long as she could for the county’s health insurance coverage.)
After she was fired, she ran for one judgeship, lost, but in 2006 won on her second try.
Before long, stories started coming out of the Regional Justice Center about her contemptuous behavior toward her staff, particularly her bailiff, Johnny Jordan. Halverson, who had never had real power, was relishing it, throwing a pencil on the floor and ordering him to pick it up. Jordan was ordered to give her foot rubs and back massages. He has since filed a complaint against his former boss alleging discrimination based on sex and race. He is black and says she treated him like a “house boy.”
Apparently the other judges in the courthouse felt the need for a judicial intervention with Halverson:
Court officials realized they were going to be slapped with multiple lawsuits alleging hostile work environment if no action was taken. Three judges were asked to help Halverson, Family Court Judge Art Ritchie and District Judges Stewart Bell and Sally Loehrer.
A memo details an April 6 meeting between Halverson and the three judges:
• She’s told it’s inappropriate to have staff rub her feet or her back. Her answer: She’d told the bailiff to stop that, that he’d become too familiar with her.
• She’s told she should not require staff to show up at 6:45 a.m. to wait for her arrival at 8 or 8:30 a.m. Her answer: She’d told the bailiff not to come early, but he wouldn’t listen.
• She’s told she should not have staff make her lunch. Answer: The bailiff wants to make her lunch.
• She’s told there are 20-25 orders missing. Answer: She’s shocked.
• She’s told it’s unethical to make statements showing bias against attorneys, particularly those who didn’t give to her campaign. Answer: Yes, she said it, but since nobody gave her money for her campaign, she’s not discriminating against anyone.
• She’s told the demeaning way she talks to her husband, Ed, referring to him as a “bitch” (and worse), is offensive to staff. Answer: She doesn’t know why that would upset the staff, but the solution is to have him not come to her chambers.
• Told she should treat people with dignity and respect, Halverson said she didn’t know specifically what she was doing wrong.
After she answered every allegation made against her, Judge Bell told her, “If you can’t see it, you can’t fix it. Get some psychological help.”
On April 12, the three judges tried to meet with Halverson again at 4:30 p.m. She was in a civil nonjury trial. The three judges waited until 6 p.m. before leaving. Later, the judges said they confirmed her trial was over, but she waited in the courtroom until she confirmed they had departed. The judges said Halverson will “falsely” claim she was in trial. Essentially, the judges called her a liar.
We also have it on good authority that she told her doctor she was just “big-boned.”
But despite all of this, Las Vegas voters will have to wait 18 more months to get rid of the behemoth they so nonchalantly voted into office. That is unless a complaint is filed with the Judicial Discipline Commission; the article says that investigators are working on putting one together.
Oh yeah, did we mention that she’s huge?
State court judges are like bratty kids, or pets that aren’t housebroken. You can’t take them anywhere.
Because they’ve probably already been banned from where you were planning to take them. Even if the place in question is the courthouse.
Consider the Honorable Elizabeth Halverson (at right). From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The District Court chief judge on Thursday banned District Judge Elizabeth Halverson from the county courthouse.
In an administrative order, Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle said Halverson jeopardized security at the courthouse this week by bringing her own two bodyguards into the courthouse and allowing them to bypass security checks.
As for why Judge Halverson needs two (2) bodyguards — and no, we won’t make the obvious joke — there’s quite a backstory, full of juicy judicial infighting. You can read all about it here.
And Judge Halverson isn’t the only state judge getting banned from public places these days. Meet the Honorable Fred Axley.
From the Legal Reader:
A Memphis judge is banned from a Florida resort. He is accused of sexually harassing an employee. Eyewitness News Everywhere uncovered this is not the first time Criminal Court Judge Fred Axley has been accused of sexual harassment….
Now he has been banned from a resort in Destin, FL, after an employee there says he sexually harassed her last week….
When we called the resort, an employee who asked not to be named, told us Axley had propositioned a massage therapist there for oral sex.
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