NV Judge Ousted; Ordered Defense Lawyer Handcuffed

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Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen will never again serve as a judge in Nevada, says the state’s Commission on Judicial Discipline. Hafen drew criticism from groups of defense attorneys after ordering a lawyer handcuffed in court. Hafen agreed to public censure and admitted that he violated judicial canons as the result of four complaints filed with the commission, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He admitted failing failed to “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary;” that he did not uphold the law and “perform all duties of his judicial office fairly and impartially;” and was not “patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, court staff, court officials and others he dealt with in his official capacity.”

The commission noted that another judge overturned a contempt finding against Zohra Bakhtary, the deputy public defender who was handcuffed on Hafen’s orders. Bakhtary was left to sit silently in the courtroom for about three minutes while her client was sent to jail for six months on a larceny charge. Hafen should have allowed the defendant or his lawyer to be heard, according to the resolution the former judge reached with the commission.

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