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August 21, 2014

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Former Judge Elizabeth Halverson forced to pay $50,000 in damages

Court rules Halverson must pay for defaming judicial assistant Ileen Spoor

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Elizabeth Halverson

Former District Court Judge Elizabeth Halverson was ordered today to pay her former judicial assistant $50,000 after a judge found Halverson liable for defaming her.

At a hearing today in front of Judge David Wall, Halverson, who wasn’t present, was ordered to pay the money and return a Rolodex and files to Ileen Spoor.

Wall denied an additional request for $100,000 in punitive damages for what Spoor’s attorneys called “malicious and intentional conduct.”

In asking for the punitive damages, Spoor’s attorney, Assly Sayyar, told the judge that Halverson’s actions were “intentional” and that “they were done with conscious disregard for Ms. Spoor’s rights, almost as if Ms. Halverson was trying to deliberately and intentionally point the finger of illegal behavior at Ms. Spoor to deflect against her own personal and professional issues that were ongoing in the public.”

After the hearing, she said the $50,000 awarded to her client was symbolic that Halverson’s actions were inappropriate.

“The false claims really hurt her,” Sayyar said. “The monetary award of $50,000 is illustrative of what (Halverson) did wrong.”

Spoor said the ruling came as a relief, as the ordeal had been rough on both her and her family.

“I feel good about this,” she said.

The lawsuit dates back to 2007, when Spoor sued Halverson for defamation. Halverson had accused Spoor of conducting illegal activities, including helping people avoiding jury duty and fixing traffic citations. She was found liable in September after failing to appear in court on more than one occasion.

Spoor said Halverson publicly embarrassed her and “dragged her name through the mud,” according to court documents. Halverson’s public accusations, which included appearances on radio and local news programs, damaged Spoor’s reputation and she was “falsely labeled as someone who engaged in illegal and corrupt acts,” she alleged in a complaint.

Halverson, whose short tenure on the bench was plagued with accusations of judicial misconduct, was permanently barred from serving as a judge again in November 2008.

Among other incidents, Halverson was accused of forcing a bailiff to rub her feet and being verbally abusive toward her staff. She was also accused of improperly speaking to seated jurors.

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