Smithfield Attorney of State Trooper Fired for Kicking his Drug-detecting Dog Awarded $125,000 in Fees from NC

The attorney of a state trooper who was fired for kicking his drug-detection dog will be awarded $125,400 in fees despite years of appeals by the state.

The state’s persistence in fighting a losing series of court rulings that went in favor of fired trooper Charles Jones inflated the amount of money North Carolina must pay to his attorney, the Court of Appeals says in upholding a lower court ruling last month.

John P. “Jack” O’Hale of Smithfield was awarded $125,400 for his lengthy defense of Jones. The State Highway Patrol sergeant was fired in 2007 after cellphone video surfaced of him kicking his drug-detection dog, Ricoh, during a training exercise.

After the video became public, then-Gov. Mike Easley demanded the Highway Patrol fire Jones. The state appeals court eventually ruled his firing was improper, and he was re-instated with back pay of more than $200,000.

In July 2015, the state Human Resources Commission agreed to pay O’Hale $75,000 in court-ordered attorney fees. But O’Hale appealed that decision on the grounds it should have been designated as an extraordinary case, making it eligible for a higher rate.

O’Hale won his appeal when Judge Mary Ann Tally agreed, awarding him $300 per hour instead of $175.



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