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State Trooper Defends His Credibility

Posted August 7, 2007
Updated August 21, 2007

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— A state Highway Patrol trooper who pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court defended his credibility Tuesday during a hearing to determine whether he should be a witness when one of his DWI cases goes to trial.

Attorney Bill Finn questioned trooper Scott Harrison at length about whether he intentionally targeted young, attractive women and implied that Harrison had a history of speaking inappropriately to the women he arrests.

"I'm an 11-year veteran, and I'm a professional trooper," Harrison testified. "I don't engage in any unethical questioning."

The hearing resumes Wednesday, when Finn is expected to call witnesses to testify against Harrison's credibility.

Tuesday's testimony stems from a Nov. 10, 2005, arrest in which Harrison arrested Finn's client, Christina Pasive, for driving while impaired. Harrison said Pasive was traveling 55 mph in a 45 mph zone and had swerved left of the double-yellow centerline four times.

Harrison also said that Pasive, whose blood alcohol concentration registered 0.10, had alcohol on her breath and failed roadside sobriety tests and an alcohol breath test. He said Pasive also told him she should not have been driving.

But he denied allegations by Pasive's attorney that the stop was unconstitutional and improper.

Harrison testified that he had arrested more than 400 people on DWI charges in the past three years, about half of them women.

"The color of a person's skin, the gender, has no effect on what type of action I take," Harrison said. "If they've committed a crime, they're cited or arrested."

Harrison's professionalism was called into question in March when Raleigh attorney James Crouch accused him of assaulting a Holly Springs man in the processing area of the Wake County Jail.

Another Raleigh attorney, Bill Young, also raised questions about Harrison's professionalism, citing concerns from female clients about comments the trooper allegedly made that bordered on being "flirtatious."

During his testimony Tuesday, Harrison said both attorneys' claims, made in a March WRAL investigative report, were false.

"They lied to WRAL, and they made false and slanderous allegations," he said.

Finn also asked Harrison about an e-mail he allegedly had sent to friends following the report, in which he thanked them for their support and contested the story's accuracy.

One of the e-mail addresses was of a woman he had previously arrested for driving while impaired. Harrison admitted they were acquaintances, but denied any further relationship with her.

Harrison also admitted Tuesday that he left District Judge Kristin Ruth's courtroom on April 16 when he saw a television camera inside and that he didn't want to interact with the media.

That action led to Ruth charging Harrison with two counts of criminal contempt of court – one for lying to the court and one for disruption of the court. Harrison pleaded guilty to one count for disruption of the court. The other charge was dismissed.

The trooper maintained in court Tuesday that no one directly released him from another courtroom to go back to Ruth's.

Defense attorneys argue that Harrison's guilty plea raises questions about his credibility, which could lead to some of Harrison's 159 pending DWI cases being dismissed.

Attorneys in the Wake County District Attorney's Office were unsure how Tuesday's proceedings could affect those pending cases.

Harrison is on administrative duty while the Highway Patrol's Internal Affairs Division investigates his conduct.

The state has also put him on notice that his law enforcement certification could be rescinded because of the guilty plea on the contempt charge.