Nevada Judge Asks State Supreme Court to Intervene in Job Dispute

An elected Nevada judge is asking the state Supreme Court to intervene in a dispute that led Clark County's chief administrative judge to bar her from the courthouse.

Judge Elizabeth Halverson filed an emergency motion Tuesday to try to require District Court Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle to justify actions taken against Halverson since April, and to let Halverson back into the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. Hardcastle told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she will allow Halverson back to work if she first meets with presiding judges to discuss a possible violation of courthouse security by Halverson.

"At this point, I welcome review by the Supreme Court into this matter," Hardcastle said.

Halverson, who was elected in November and installed in January, has been battling with Hardcastle for months over courtroom rules and control.

Hardcastle last month reassigned Halverson from criminal to civil cases, after Halverson acknowledged having conversations with jurors during a criminal case without lawyers present. Hardcastle also required Halverson to seek guidance from a panel of veteran judges.

Last week, Halverson hired two private security guards, after the bailiff she hired in January filed a complaint with the Clark County Office of Diversity and was reassigned.

Hardcastle barred Halverson from the Regional Justice Center on Friday saying the guards, who had not been screened or fingerprinted as required by courthouse security, broke courthouse rules.

Halverson called the move punitive, and said she hired two unarmed bodyguards with military experience because she was concerned about safety in her chambers.

Halverson's lawyers, Bill Gamage and Dominic Gentile, say only the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline and the Nevada Supreme
Court have power to punish a sitting judge.

Halverson said she wants the Supreme Court to determine the scope of authority of the chief judge.

She and Hardcastle have a contentious past. Hardcastle fired Halverson in 2004 as temporary law clerk, a position that Halverson
held for nine years.

Halverson ran against Hardcastle's then-husband for a family court position, but lost before winning a District Court bench seat last year.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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