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Trooper Pleads Guilty to Contempt Charge

Posted June 15, 2007
Updated August 8, 2007

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— A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper pleaded guilty Friday to criminal contempt of court after a judge said he left her courtroom and delayed several trials.

Trooper Scott Harrison was ordered to perform 75 hours of community service and submit to a mental examination.

"I think this was a very good resolution after all that has happened, and I look forward to just moving forward," District Judge Kristen Ruth said.

Last month, Ruth charged Harrison with two counts of contempt – one for lying to the court and one for disruption of the court. Ruth alleged that Harrison lied to her about being needed in another courtroom on April 16 when he had more than 12 cases waiting to be heard in her courtroom.

Harrison pleaded guilty to one count for disruption of the court. The other charge was dismissed.

In his plea, Harrison didn't acknowledge to lying to the judge, defense attorney Dan Boyce said.

"I have worked very hard, diligently, to do my duties. I do them with professionalism and integrity and would never compromise that," Harrison said after the hearing.

Harrison's professional conduct was called into question earlier this year when a Holly Springs man claimed the trooper assaulted him in the processing area of the Wake County Jail while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

Numerous lawyers and judges have voiced concern to WRAL about Harrison's conduct on the job and in the courtroom. Several said the North Carolina Highway Patrol's Internal Affairs Division has contacted them regarding his conduct.

Harrison ducked out of Ruth's courtroom when he spotted WRAL cameras filming him in court.

He remains on desk duty while the Highway Patrol investigates the allegations against him. The contempt citation also will be reviewed, said Lt. Everett Clendenin of the Highway Patrol.

"This is something that doesn't happen often. We're disappointed that it happened this time. We'll take the court's findings, we'll proceed on with our internal investigation and we'll make a decision in the near future about what we need to do," Clendenin said.

Harrison has 159 cases pending in Wake County traffic court. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said he's not sure what impact the contempt charge would have on those cases.

"Trooper Harrison looks forward to putting this behind him and returning to his job enforcing the laws of North Carolina and protecting the public," Boyce said.