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December 20, 2014

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Halverson calls for help, ends up in a fix

Tech guy says she wanted to hack e-mails of those she was feuding with

Computer whiz Gregory Klassoff remembers the request he got last spring from a Las Vegas district court judge.

“I was told a file was lost on the computer,” said Klassoff, an employee of Supertech Computers on West Sahara Avenue. He went to see judge Elizabeth Halverson at the Regional Justice Center expecting to help her retrieve the file.

But when he arrived on that day last May, “the job changed,” he told the Sun recently, laughing.

“Halverson didn’t want a missing file,” Klassoff said. She sought the e-mails of employees she was at odds with, including those of former executive assistant Ileen Spoor, according to Dorothy Nash Holmes, an attorney working on behalf of the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, which later investigated.

Klassoff refused to help. “If you get locked out of your computer, I’m more than happy to get you back in,” he said. “If you want me to break into a computer that’s somebody else’s, I’m not going to do that.”

Halverson paid Supertech $85 for one hour of help, said the company’s owner, Lem Aligaen. Klassoff, however, didn’t go quietly into the night. He hired a lawyer, who reported Halverson to the Judicial Discipline Commission.

The alleged escapade led to one of 14 charges the commission recently filed against Halverson. It says she attempted to “breach the computer system installed at the justice center.”

Halverson, elected to the court in 2006, was suspended in late July. That suspension remains in effect because the commission took until this month to file charges.

Halverson’s attorney, William Gammage, said the computer incident was greatly overstated: “I can’t really go into it right now, but couching it as ‘hacking into the system’ is inaccurate.”

Lawyers for the judge have petitioned the state Supreme Court to lift the suspension, accusing the commission of failing to set a probable cause hearing date months after she was barred from the courthouse. The delay has amounted “to a removal from the bench without due process of law,” say court documents filed on her behalf.

The Associated Press recently reported the high court order found “issues of arguable merit” in that contention and instructed the discipline commission to respond by mid-February.

The e-mails Halverson allegedly sought were those to and from employees, at least one of whom had moved to a different office at the courthouse.

Those staffers have said they had great difficulty working with Halverson. They have complained to state investigators that the judge repeatedly tossed obscenities their way. A bailiff has said she instructed him to give her repeated back and foot rubs. Another says she called him a “faux Jew,” according to the commission’s list of charges.

Halverson also is accused of falling asleep during trial on at least two occasions, as well as speaking with jurors without lawyers present — which is forbidden.

Bobbi Tackett, a friend of Halverson and a one-time office temp, thinks courthouse employees conspired against the judge from the day she entered the Regional Justice Center.

“Elizabeth made mistakes, but she thought she had a trusting staff,” Tackett said in a recent interview. “I feel terrible for her. It’s just a travesty.”

In a six-month period last year, the Eighth Judicial District — which encompasses Clark County — found 134 instances of attorneys demanding to move their cases from Halverson’s courtroom. In April, Chief District Court Judge Kathy Hardcastle stripped Halverson of her criminal cases. The next month, Hardcastle barred Halverson from the courthouse.

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