Kentucky

Justice's son resigns AOC post

The oldest son of state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott was promoted by the court system in January despite a pending felony drug charge in Virginia.

Andrew H. Scott, 33, resigned Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts. His resignation came after the Herald-Leader began asking questions about his pending criminal case.

The Administrative Office of the Courts did not respond to further questions about Scott's resignation. It's unclear whether his resignation took effect immediately.

Scott could not be reached Friday for comment.

Justice Will T. Scott said late Friday that he did not have a comment about his son's resignation. "I don't think Andrew would want to say anything either," he said. "I gave all my comments ... earlier."

Andrew Scott is currently on probation and is being supervised in Floyd County by the Kentucky Department of Corrections, according to the department. He was charged with an accommodation sale of amphetamine, a controlled substance.

Andrew Scott's attorney, Gerald Gray of Virginia, said Thursday that Scott entered into a plea agreement last December that will allow him to avoid a felony conviction if he does not get into trouble during 12 months' probation.

Scott's probation expires on Dec. 6. He faces six months in jail if he is arrested before then. Scott is scheduled to appear in a Virginia courtroom on Dec. 8.

Scott worked for the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts monitoring accused criminals, including drug addicts, in Perry County who are out of jail on bond awaiting trial.

Scott was promoted in January to a supervisory position. The promotion is the subject of a pending lawsuit filed by a woman who claims he got the job because of nepotism.

Not disqualified

In January 2008, just a month after Scott's plea deal, Scott was promoted from pre-trial officer to pre-trial supervisor.

In a statement in response to written questions, a spokeswoman said the AOC does not automatically fire employees who are accused of criminal offenses. She had also noted that Scott's case is not final.

The AOC's personnel "policies allow the Court of Justice to consider individual circumstances and address each situation on its own merits," spokeswoman Leigh Anne Hiatt said.

Hiatt said the court system is committed to rehabilitation.

"For that reason, currently the AOC does employ individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors and felonies," she said.

The AOC refused to answer other questions — including whether Scott had notified his bosses of the charge, whether he was subjected to any disciplinary proceedings or if Scott's familial ties helped him get the promotion despite his pending criminal charge.

Will T. Scott said in an interview Thursday that he thinks his son had informed AOC of his charge and pending criminal case.

The AOC's personnel policies regarding pending criminal matters appear to be more lax than other state agencies or similar agencies in other states that oversee people in the court system.

Merit system employees who plead guilty to a felony or are convicted of a felony could face disciplinary action and possible termination, said Crystal Pryor, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet. The punishment would depend on the nature of the crime and the circumstances, Pryor said.

West Virginia probation services will overlook some minor charges, depending on the crime, said Mike Lacy, director of the Division of Probation Services for the West Virginia Administrative Office of the Courts. But Lacy said he would be concerned if someone he supervised pleaded guilty to a felony even if it was later adjudicated as a misdemeanor, which could happen with Scott.

"Personally, I don't know that the fact that it was later changed to a misdemeanor changes my opinion," Lacy said. "We have to have confidence that these folks are going to ensure that people are upholding the law and if they can't do that themselves, than that sets a questionable precedent."

Promotion brings lawsuit

Scott's promotion is the subject of a pending lawsuit filed in Perry Circuit Court by Ruth Ann Combs, a fired AOC employee who says Scott got her job because of nepotism.

Combs is now asking a judge to let her amend her lawsuit. Her lawyer, Ned Pillersdorf, a political rival of Will T. Scott, says the AOC committed fraud by failing to tell Combs during her internal administrative proceedings that Andrew Scott has a pending felony charge.

"This is the court system offering evidence that they knew or certainly should have known was misleading," said Pillersdorf, of Prestonburg.

Will T. Scott, of Pikeville, has denied any involvement in his son's hiring and promotion. He accused Pillersdorf Thursday of pursuing a political vendetta intended to tarnish him for the 2012 elections. Pillersdorf is the husband of former Justice Janet Stumbo, whom Scott defeated for re-election in 2004.

"Andrew does his job good. He is a good kid," Will T. Scott said. But, he added, "I don't approve of what my children do at times."

Pillersdorf replied that the true victims are Combs and another client whom Scott was promoted over.

Andrew Scott referred questions to Gray, his attorney.

Andrew Scott was charged on July 8, 2006, while Will T. Scott said that his son was on a leave of absence trying to get re-enrolled at the Appalachian School of Law in Buchanan County, Va.

Gray said police received an anonymous tip that Andrew Scott was selling drugs. A young woman and two undercover officers stopped by his hotel and invited him to their room.

They had drinks, and the woman persuaded Scott to give her one Adderall pill.

On Dec. 18, 2006, Scott was indicted by a Virginia grand jury.

Gray said that Scott did not sell Adderall. He says Scott had a legal prescription for Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit disorder.

"She said she was feeling terrible, and Andrew said he had something he could give her," Gray said.

Gray argued to a judge that Scott was entrapped because the woman continued to ask for drugs until he eventually complied. The judge lowered the charge to a lesser felony, and prosecutors offered a plea deal that could lead to a Class II misdemeanor conviction of possession of a controlled substance, which is a lesser offense than reckless driving, Gray said.

Earlier promotion rescinded

Andrew Scott was hired as a pre-trial officer on Aug. 16, 2005, according to AOC personnel records.

Pre-trial officers are court employees responsible for interviewing defendants in jail and providing information to judges so they can set bond. They also monitor compliance for defendants on pre-trial release.

On May 1, 2007, Scott was promoted to supervisor, a job that paid $30,576, but was demoted barely three weeks later, AOC records show. He was allowed to keep his $2,784 a year pay raise.

Pillersdorf has said that Andrew Scott's demotion was the result of an appeal by Tamara Van Hoose, who works in Magoffin County.

Pillersdorf said Andrew Scott, who at that time had less than the two years of experience required to be a pre-trial supervisor, was promoted over Van Hoose, a veteran pre-trial officer with 18 years' experience.

AOC officials have argued that Scott's two years at Appalachian Law School should count as relevant experience, Pillersdorf said. Scott has not graduated from the school.

The AOC eventually gave Van Hoose the promotion. Pillersdorf claims that it then targeted Combs to find Scott another supervisory job.

Combs does not have a clean employment record, and has been disciplined multiple times.

Most recently, in December 2007, Combs was accused of misinforming Perry Circuit Judge William Engle III about the status of a defendant's drug tests. She was also accused of having dinner with a man being supervised by her office. She allegedly tried to get the man out of jail.

Combs voluntarily agreed to a demotion, which the AOC has cited as proof that it did not force her out to give Scott a promotion in January.

She was fired on Jan. 24.

Engle has said that he was satisfied with Combs' performance and is not aware of ever being misled. And a three-person tribunal recommended that Combs get her job because the evidence used to justify her termination was not presented until after her firing.

The tribunal, however, found "no merit whatsoever" to Combs' claims of favoritism.

Former Justice James E. Keller, sitting in for AOC director Jason Nemes, who recused himself, reversed the tribunal's recommendation that Combs be reinstated.

Pillersdorf could not be reached for comment Friday. It's unclear how Scott's resignation would affect Combs' case.

  Comments