State Patrol officer declared unreliable witness by a county attorney

Sgt. Sylvia Maurstad must have made some enemies in the Roseau, Minn., area over the years.

She’s been declared an unreliable witness, Forum News reports.

Roseau County Attorney Karen Foss says any testimony she gives should be taken into question. In which case? Any case.

Ostensibly, it comes from a 2015 case in which an impaired driver case was thrown out because the trooper lacked probable cause for the stop.

But it sounds like things go far deeper. Foss asked the State Patrol to transfer the sergeant out of the area.

“Sgt. Maurstad is a valued and dedicated member of our agency who, as far as I am aware, works hard on a daily basis to keep our roads safe,” Col. Matthew Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, wrote in response. “Your decision has a great impact on not only Sgt. Maurstad’s ability to do her job effectively, but the State Patrol as a whole.”

Rick Rone, mayor of Baudette, Minn., says he’s been fielding complaints “for years,” the paper said.

In a Facebook post two years ago, the State Patrol said the sergeant goes above and beyond the call of duty in her job:

Sgt. Sylvia Maurstad was assisting with a tow when she observed a vehicle drive past at a very slow speed with a long line of traffic backed up behind it. She recognized the senior driver and knew his driver’s license was canceled. Sgt. Maurstad located the vehicle and driver at a local café and told the man he could not be driving.

The gentleman asked to speak with her alone and explained that he did not have any food at home and came to the café to have breakfast. After further conversation, Sgt. Maurstad drove the man to the bank to get enough money to pay for his meal, to DVS to find options for his driver’s license, and to the county social services office to meet with a case manager. She took him home, stopping on the way to buy him a few groceries. After dropping him off, she arranged with a local senior service agency to provide transportation and assistance with day-to-day activities.

Maurstad has been with the State Patrol for more than 20 years.

  • Thomas Mercier

    It is possible to do a good job one day and a not so great job another. That’s key to remember in cases like these.
    As a people manager when a pattern of both is identifiable it’s time to invest some time in the staff member to promote the good while also minimizing the bad. We all have faults, and if we’re unable to be honest with ourselves or others of that fact, we’re in big trouble.

    • jon

      Or some one being good at one aspect of their job (helping elderly people they recognize) vs. another (testifying in court, or dealing with drunk folks they don’t know).

      Of all the skills a person can have, the ability to judge oneself accurately, and be able to make adjustments, or compensations, for your weaknesses is probably among the best…

  • MikeB

    A remarkable step by the County Attorney, and the fact that the Mayor traveled to St Paul to provide local feedback. Reading between the lines, previous feedback was disregarded so the hammer came down (the Giglio designation). Shouldn’t have come to that.

  • Mike Worcester

    At first glance my initial thought was that you have a more rural area, populated by people who have been there for multiple generations (I grew up in an area like that), where relatives are all over, and word travels fast when someone has a difficulty with law enforcement.

    Say what one might about law enforcement agencies, they do evaluate their personnel, they do take into account their actions and behaviours when carrying out evaluations, and they do take action if the situation warrants.

    I keep thinking there has to be more at work here than just irritation at the work of one member of an agency.

  • Matt

    “[Attorney Fish] said at jury trials when the judge states Maurstad will be the testifying officer, “the jury will erupt in laughter.” In cases involving Maurstad, he said the prosecutor will spend most of the trial defending the validity of her evidence to the jury.”

    Missing context here is what the specific impairment is that the county attorney declared her impaired under Giglio v. U.S., not just the 2015 MN state district court decision throwing out case for want of probable cause.