Oklahoma's Department of Corrections ordered to pay employee $175K for 'emotional distress'

Debbie Courtney is also fighting for more than $50K to cover legal expenses.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: June 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm •  Published: June 14, 2013
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According to court records, Courtney conducted the home visit at the woman's residence on Aug. 22, 2010, along with another parole and probation officer. Records show that the woman and her boyfriend at the time “at first resisted the visit, but later complied and cooperated with the officers.”

“At no time during the home visit did (the couple) inform the officers that she was no longer under DOC supervision,” Courtney's attorney wrote in the petition.

Weeks later, after a complaint by a “private citizen,” Courtney was told she was being investigated by the corrections department's Internal Affairs division in connection with the home visit a month earlier.

In March 2011, Courtney was fired for violating the corrections department's search and seizure policy. Truitt, who had allegedly ordered Courtney to conduct the home visit, was not disciplined at the time, records show.

An attorney for Courtney wrote in court filings that only three corrections department employees had been disciplined for violating the department's search and seizure policy before his client. He wrote that none of the three employees were terminated.

Attorneys for the state agency admitted the three employees were only issued letters of reprimand, but noted that “none of these violations involved home visits of offenders, which DOC lacked the authority to supervise.”

Courtney appealed her termination, and it was reduced to a 10-day suspension without pay by the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission.

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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