State gives up fight to fire trooper

cjarvis@newsobserver.comMarch 14, 2013 

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Trooper Anthony E. Scott

COURTESY OF THE STATE HIGHWAY PATROL

— The new administration at the state Department of Public Safety has dropped a three-year effort to fire a trooper who was visiting his girlfriend in Pittsboro while on duty when her estranged husband showed up wielding a gun.

The decision to stop appealing a series of rulings that have gone against the state led to the reinstatement this week of Trooper Anthony E. Scott.

Scott’s inappropriate visit to the woman wasn’t the issue that kept the case going on for so long. In dispute was the state’s decision to fire him after he appealed the State Highway Patrol’s decision to demote him, cut his pay and reassign him to Charlotte in December 2009. Reuben Young, who headed what was then the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, overruled a committee he had appointed to review the case and fired Scott.

Administrative Law Judge Fred Morrison in October 2010 ruled that Young had exceeded his authority by ignoring the State Highway Patrol grievance procedure and increasing the punishment. Morrison ruled that would have “a chilling effect on the right of members of the Highway Patrol to appeal.”

The State Personnel Commission agreed with Morrison in January 2011, but Crime Control and Public Safety successfully argued against the ruling in Wake Superior Court. Then last August, the state Court of Appeals sided in Scott’s favor.

It all began in August 2009 when Scott was visiting the woman at her home. Her estranged husband showed up earlier than expected with the couple’s children, and the trooper slipped out the back door to avoid a confrontation.

Court documents allege the ex-husband planned to kill his wife, the trooper and himself. He later pleaded guilty to assault by pointing a gun and assault on a female.

Scott and the woman subsequently married.

He will receive back pay at the reduced salary imposed in the initial review, and the state will also pay his attorney’s fees.

Jarvis: 919-829-4576

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