Revocation Of Corrections Certificate Not Automatic For Conviction For Lying

Shawn King was a corrections officer with the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC). In 2009 or 2010, King’s brother and sister-in-law gave him their dog, Sophie. They told King that they would take Sophie back at any time if King could no longer care for her. In 2013, King took Sophie to the Payette City Police Department in Idaho, where King lived, and told a police officer that he had found the dog on that day while she was roaming the city without a collar or other identification. At the time, Sophie was emaciated and had an injured leg. The police officer impounded the dog.

On that same day, King told his brother that he had taken Sophie to a shelter. The shelter and police were then notified that King had been the dog’s owner and caregiver for the preceding several years. The Payette officer contacted King and asked him why he had lied about finding the dog. King responded that he had lied because he knew that the shelter would not have taken the dog if he had told the truth that he was her owner. Payette Police then issued a citation to King for providing false information to a law enforcement officer. King pleaded guilty and was convicted of the misdemeanor of providing false information to police.

The DOC investigated and issued King a written reprimand. The Corrections Policy Committee for Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) then reviewed King’s conduct and conviction. The Committee recommended a life-time revocation of King’s certification for his dishonesty and a seven-year suspension for his misconduct. When the full DPSST Board upheld the revocation of King’s certificate without allowing King a hearing, King appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The Court sent the case back to DPSST for a hearing. The problem, the Court found, was that “no single outcome was required as a matter of law. That is true even if we assume that the only relevant facts are that King lied, he was convicted for lying, and that conduct constituted the discretionary disqualifying misconduct of dishonesty and misconduct. Applying the governing framework of statutes and rules to those facts does not, as a matter of law, require DPSST to revoke King’s certification. DPSST’s rules allow it the discretion to revoke King’s certification; however, whether it should revoke the certification is not an appropriate determination on summary determination.

“The question whether DPSST should revoke King’s certification is not a question that demands a particular result as a matter of law. Whether DPSST should revoke King’s certification is a question of discretion that requires consideration of more than the fact that King lied to a police officer and was convicted for lying. DPSST is expected to consider all of the relevant evidence in making its determination whether it should revoke a corrections officer’s certification. That consideration is appropriate in the context of a contested case hearing and not on a motion for summary determination.”

King v. Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, 289 Or. App. 314 (Or. Ct. App. 2017).