By Kevin O'hanlon, The Associated Press
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The fight by an embattled State Patrol sergeant to keep his job has reached the Nebraska Supreme Court for the third time.
The high court will hear arguments Friday in the latest appeal by Sgt. Steve Hauser, who has been trying to keep his law enforcement certification since being charged with assaulting his wife in 1999.
Hauser, who was stationed in North Platte, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and was convicted of a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace. He was sentenced to 14 months of probation and a year in a domestic violence intervention program.
The state Crime Commission in 2000 revoked his license to be a police officer, citing neglect of duty and emotional incapacity.
Hall County District Judge James Livingston then reversed the firing, saying state law gives revocation authority to the Police Standards Advisory Council, not the commission.
Livingston's ruling, however, was then overturned by the state Supreme Court.
Last year, Livingston upheld the decision of the commission to revoke the license, saying there was sufficient evidence that Hauser was emotionally incapable of being a police officer because of what he did to his wife and how he attempted to cover it up.
"To continue this violent and abusive situation and deny its existence shows a lack of judgment and capacity to be a certified law enforcement officer," Livingston said.
Hauser's attorney, Vince Valentino, is now challenging what merits revocation of a law enforcement license.
"The ... contention that Mr. Hauser suffers from emotional incapacity hinges on recounting the arguments that occurred during the Hausers' marriage," Valentino wrote in briefs filed in the case. "A ... mental examination of Mr. Hauser was never arranged or offered into evidence to prove that appellant was emotionally incapacitated.
"Without a medical opinion, it is clear that Mr. Hauser's alleged physical conduct does not fit into the statutory ground of mental incapacity," he said.
He also argues that the tenets of patrol's code of ethics, general rules of conduct and oath of office cannot be used to revoke an officer's license.
State law says a license can be revoked for incompetence, neglect of duty and/or mental or emotional incapacity.
Special Assistant Attorney General Terri Weeks argues that the behavior for which Hauser was charged was sufficient to revoke his license.
"A law enforcement officer has a statutory obligation to prevent crime, and it would be a breach or neglect of that statutory duty for a law enforcement officer to violate the laws of the state," she said. "Evidence established that Hauser's conduct of repeatedly physically assaulting and subjecting his former wife ... to situations of false imprisonment are indicative of emotional incapacity."
Hauser continues to work for the patrol as a desk sergeant in Lincoln while the appeal is pending.
Including Hauser, 26 law enforcement licenses have been revoked under the system in question. A license is needed for a person to work in law enforcement in the state.
In most cases, revocation proceedings occur after a person has left law enforcement. Hauser's case was unusual because he was employed by the State Patrol during the proceedings.