(CN) – A police officer will get a second chance to prove that his chief forced him to resign after suspecting him of bigamy, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled.
David Schofield resigned as a police officer and then sued the city of St. Paul. He claims Police Chief Gary Putnam coerced him into leaving the force after discovering that Schofield had married a Filipino woman while still married to a woman in the United States.
In late 2003, Schofield met Eula Figuero over the Internet. Schofield traveled to the Philippines twice in the following year. During those trips, he proposed to Figuero and celebrated with what he claimed was a “non-legal” wedding ceremony.
However, Schofield was already married at the time. He sent divorce papers to his wife in Idaho, but the divorce was not finalized before he married Figuero.
Though Schofield insisted the ceremony in the Philippines wasn’t legal, city officials said Schofield and his father both claimed that Schofield was married to Figuero.
Putnam met with Schofield and confronted him about his alleged violation of Alaska’s law against “unlawful marrying.”
In a second meeting, Schofield said, he resigned in order to avoid being fired, which could threaten his police certification.
Schofield sued the city for constructive discharge, and the trial court sided with the city.
The state high court reversed the decision, citing the incorrect exclusion of Putnam’s statement about actions that the district attorney and the Alaska Police Standards Council could take against Schofield.
Putnam said the district attorney could examine Schofield’s record to decide whether to prosecute him. He also said the council would subpoena the record and probably do “some very aggressive questioning” regarding to Schofield’s certification.
Chief Justice Walter Carpeneti concluded that the case must be returned to the trial court with these statements included.
“Because the excluded statements go to the core of Schofield’s claim that he resigned to protect his police certification, there is significant probative value to the statements,” Carpeneti wrote.
“We conclude that it was an abuse of discretion to exclude the statements.”