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Judge Banned for Handcuffing Attorney

Robe-itis, the disease that sometimes infects new judges, usually is not fatal.

The malady transforms ordinary people into ogres when they put on the black robe. With time and experience, however, most judges survive and emerge as patient, dignified, and courteous representatives of the court.

But not Conrad Hafen of Las Vegas, it would seem. The former justice of the peace put on the robe and turned into Darth Vader. Now his judicial career is over.

No Peace for Justice of the Peace

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline has banned Hafen from the bench for, let's call it "acute robe-itis." The last outbreak did him in.

In May 2016, Hafen ordered his bailiff to handcuff an assistant public defender for talking over him. The officer cuffed the attorney and seated her in a chair next to the jury box until the proceedings were over.

"I think she's learned her lesson," Hafen then said and ordered the bailiff to uncuff the lawyer.

Unfortunately, it was not the first time Hafen had taken out his anger on people so ceremoniously. In two other cases, Hafen ordered defendants jailed for disrupting his courtroom. He sent a woman to jail for 25 days for arguing with him.

No, He Can't Keep the Robe

For his behavior, the commission charged Hafen with violating judicial canons. He stipulated to the charges and the discipline against him. Darth Hafen can keep his bar license, but not the robe.

"Respondent therefore consents and agrees that he will not seek, accept or serve in any judicial or adjudicative position or capacity in the future in any jurisdiction in the State of Nevada," the orders said.

Banishing a judge is rare, even in Sin City. However, last year the Nevada commission kicked out a family court judge after he was convicted of fraud.

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