Wake County DA Still Examining Trooper's Cases
Posted August 16, 2007
Updated August 21, 2007
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Thursday that his staff is still examining a state trooper's traffic cases to determine whether they should go to trial.
Willoughby said prosecutors are looking at each case and would likely make a decision in open court about whether to proceed with 119 cases filed by Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Harrison, who Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said last week was "unworthy of belief."
Stephens also dropped a Nov. 10, 2005, drunken-driving charge against Christina Pasive, 27, after a hearing in which her attorney argued that Harrison had a pattern of targeting women during his patrols.
He ruled the stop of Pasive's vehicle unconstitutional "because it was based upon her age and her gender."
In an official order, filed Aug. 10, Stephens wrote: "The court does not find the testimony of Scott Harrison credible or worthy of belief, based upon his demeanor, his answers to questions and his conduct as described in the testimony of other credible witnesses."
If Willoughby were to dismiss the cases, Raleigh attorney Bill Young said, that could have an impact on prior cases in which defendants charged by Harrison, were convicted.
But Young said any appeals, although not impossible, would be difficult because the standards to vacate a case after a sentence are very high in North Carolina.
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.
Young also raised questions about Harrison's professionalism, citing concerns from female clients about comments the trooper allegedly made that bordered on being "flirtatious."
Harrison, who has adamantly denied the attorneys' claims, testified last week that those claims were "false and slanderous allegations."
In a prepared statement, he said he believes he was fair in his arrests.
"I believe that the arrest statistics will ultimately show that my arrest rates are closer to a 50-50 percentile of both men and women – and that, in itself, will show there's no pattern of profiling," he said.
The Highway Patrol is investigating the accusations against Harrison, who is on administrative duty pending the outcome of the probe.