Senate 9 Primary Race Gets Nasty, Halseth Goes After Nolan on Rape Case Testimony

If you missed last night’s back-and-forth between GOP primary challenger Elizabeth Halseth and state senator Dennis Nolan on Face to Face, you can watch the show’s last two segments here. A few notes and comments on the first segment (hope to get to the rest later today):

First, for background, you should listen to Halseth’s latest radio ad –  Ehalseth_Ad_2 — roasting senator Nolan for his 2008 testimony in a rape case involving a minor.  The ad ends with this from the alleged victim’s father:

“What kind of a person defends a child rapist who sexually assaults our kids?”

“Tell [Dennis Nolan] that defending child rapists is not OK.”

Also check out Halseth’s recent mailer:

You are now filled in.

Ralston kicked off the first segment with this comment to Halseth:

“This has gotten unusually nasty, and I am really stunned, actually, by the radio ad that you’re running right now.  You’re criticizing Senator Nolan for testifying as a character witness for a friend who was charged with the sexual assault of a teenager.”

And then turned to Nolan for comment who said:

“I think this is typical, sleazy Washington-style politics.  I was asked to… I wasn’t asked, I was actually subpoenaed by the public defender’s office, to come and testify on behalf of a friend who I’ve known for years, who grew up with my kids. I was subpoenaed; I testified; I appeared in court; I told the truth; and that’s all I can do.  That’s all anybody can expect of a citizen in our judicial system.”

Ralston referred back to Nolan’s comments about pressure (at the time of the case) from the DA’s office re: his testimony and asked him if he had regrets.

Nolan said he did not regret giving the testimony.  He said he knew both the accused and the victim, and that he told the truth.

Nolan also said that although there was a conviction in the case, the state Supreme Court has found merit in the appeal (which has not yet been decided).

Ralston to Halseth:  “I have a simple question for you.  What’s the point of this ad?  Why should he not have done what he did?”

Halseth defended the ad saying it was factual. Ralston then asked her why the ad is relevant.

Halseth:  “You don’t use your position as a state senator to influence a jury, especially in a rape case against a minor.”

Ralston asked her how Nolan used his influence to sway the jury.

Halseth:  “Listen.  As a state senator… You know… It is bad, that is bad judgment…  And inappropriate for a state senator to take the stand to defend a rapist.”

Ralston:  “Did he not respond to a subpoena?  He can’t help the fact that he was a state senator, could he…?”

Halseth:  “Listen.  It is bad judgment to do what he did.”

Ralston:  “So he should have just said, “I’m not going to respond to a subpoena?”"

Halseth:  “Well, you know, show me the subpoena.”

Ralstont to Nolan:  “So she doesn’t believe you had a subpoena.”

Nolan:  “Well, she can check with the Public Defender’s office.  When you’re subpoenaed, regardless of why, good citizens respond to a subpoena.”

Ralston pressed Halseth once more as to why she would criticize Nolan on this matter vs. on the issues, especially as he was subpoenaed in a criminal case.

Halseth:  “Listen as a sexual assault victim myself, if one of my state senators got on to a witness stand and said, and testified on behalf of my attacker, and then said the attacker was a good guy, and that the attack was consensual, I do not know how I would feel.”

So in addition to putting out these very incendiary ads and mailers, Halseth is now also saying she doesn’t believe Nolan was really subpoenaed?

I am hoping to hear back in response to my call to the public defender’s office before I am ready to click “Publish” on this post, but I assume Nolan would not lie about something that could so easily be disproved.

And if Nolan was subpoenaed, as I believe he was, what else would he do but show up and testify?  Can’t imagine a situation where someone looks forward to testifying in a rape case, but citizens must answer the call.

However, that is all beside the major point and question, one which Ralston repeatedly asked and Halseth never answered:

Why is any of this relevant?

What does any of this have to do with Dennis Nolan’s ability to fulfill his duties as a state senator and/or his position on the issues?  And/or why should anyone find Elizabeth Halseth a preferable alternative and/or what are her positions on the issues?

I wish I could say Halseth answered any of those questions (which Ralston also asked) in segment two, but she didn’t.

More on that later.

Update (2:45 pm): Public defender, Philip Kohen, confirms that yes, there was subpoena for Nolan in the 2008 case.  And he had an interesting question about Halseth:

“Here is someone who says she wants to hold a constitutional office, but yet questions someone’s obligation to answer a subpoena?”

  • Tony’s Take

    It is standard operating procedure to subpoena all witnesses, so if this wasn’t done would be reason to raise a huge red flag. The reasoning is that the witness can never be accused of giving a “voluntary” statement.

    The question should be, “Would he have given the testimony without the subpoena?”

  • http://examiner.com David Phillips

    I heard the ad this morning, my first reaction was wow, she just gave Nolan a swift kick to his behind, making it sound like it was well deserved, but after reading your post, my reaction is again, wow, but this time Halseth was on the receiving end of a well deserved swift kick to her behind…

  • Torey Dawn

    Hi Elizabeth, can you do a follow-up article on Chuck’s points?

    http://www.muthstruths.com/2010/05/18/mini-muths-truths-may-18-2010/

    From MUTH’S TRUTHS:

    • State Sen. Dennis Nolan (RINO-Las Vegas) is being blistered by his primary opponent, Elizabeth Halseth, for serving as a character witness for a friend who was ultimately convicted of raping an under-aged girl about a year ago. His excuse, articulated on Jon Ralston’s Face-to-Face program last night, was that he was subpoenaed and, therefore, didn’t have any choice but to testify.

    • Bull.

    • He wasn’t subpoenaed by the prosecution or the state; he was subpoenaed by his friend’s defense lawyer who KNEW Nolan would defend his friend. Defense lawyers don’t subpoena people as character witnesses for their client unless they know for a fact that the witness is going to say nothing but good things about their client. I mean, come on.

    • In fact, Nolan told the Las Vegas Review-Journal yesterday that “I would not have testified if I didn’t believe in his innocence.”

    • Plus, Nolan could have easily asked his friend not to have his lawyer subpoena him if he didn’t want to be subpoenaed, especially considering his sensitive position as an elected official. However, I’m told that despite being advised by friends and colleagues not to testify at the trial on behalf of his rapist friend, Nolan WANTED to testify on his behalf.

    • “Frankly, I believe that the accused was innocent of the crime that was committed,” Nolan stated to Ralston on cross-examination. “I think it wasn’t sexual assault and the details of the trial pointed that out.”

    • But as Ralston pointed out, the details of the trial led to the CONVICTION of the accused. Hello?

    • But Sen. Nolan had an answer to that, as well. You see, despite his friend admitting to committing the sexual assault and being convicted of the sexual assault, Sen. Nolan STILL is holding out hope that his friend will be set free, noting that the case is under appeal at the state Supreme Court.

    • I guess hope and sympathy for the rapist springs eternal in Nolan’s World.

  • http://Facebook Anonymous

    This, Elizabeth Halseth is one big LOSER, You have filed for banckrupsy not once but two times..And one for your Husbans school!!! you can’t defalt on school lones…Ya!!! I want you to make my bills…They will by you off in a sec.You are one dirty player and I hope your kids don’t get into trouble…Dennis is the most noble man I’v ever met,He would give the shirt off his back to help a kid!!!! … Carma’s a bitch and so are you…..