Controversial Utah trooper Lisa Steed meets to discuss her firing
Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Lisa Steed has taken the first step in appealing her firing and is awaiting word on her case, her lawyer said Tuesday.
Steed, who is accused of lying on the witness stand and was under suspicion by a superior of falsifying arrest reports, met Nov. 15 with Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Lance Davenport. Steed's attorney, Greg Skordas, declined to give details of the meeting but called it "cordial."
Skordas said Davenport has latitude in determining what happens next.
"She could be reinstated. She could be fired, and everything in between," Skordas said.
Skordas said Steed "doesn't want to lose her job." Skordas declined to say whether his client would accept a civilian post within the UHP or its parent agency.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird repeated that the Steed situation is "an internal matter."
UHP sent a letter Nov. 1 to Steed notifying her she will be fired. As a state employee, Steed has the right to appeal the termination. If Steed is unhappy with Davenport's decision, she can take her case to a state board. Steed also has the option of filing a lawsuit over her termination.
UHP has been investigating Steed since April, when two state judges found she had been untruthful on the witness stand during DUI and drug possession cases.
Last month, The Salt Lake Tribune reported on a 2010 memo in which Steed's then-supervisor, Sgt. Rob Nixon, referred to "a pattern" of conflicting information between Steed's arrest reports and laboratory results. In seven of 20 cases Nixon said he reviewed, toxicology tests showed drivers arrested by Steed for DUI had only the remnants of drugs or pharmaceuticals in their blood, not necessarily the illegal kind, and four other drivers had no drugs in their systems.
After the disclosure of the memo, UHP Maj. Mike Rapich confirmed that Steed was not disciplined for the discrepancies between arrest reports and lab results.
Earlier this month, Clifford Ray filed a notice with UHP saying Steed arrested him in 2010 and falsified a report, eventually leading to his conviction for DUI. Ray's notice is the first step toward a lawsuit. Ray's attorney, Michael Studebaker, told The Tribune last week he has 22 similar cases.