Russell Pearce Scores Lame Summary Judgment Against Sal Reza in Federal Court (w/Update)
Apparently, some people in this "overflow room" applauded and/or booed at certain points during the hearing. The suggestion that this was disruptive to the hearing taking place in a different room is ludicrous in the extreme.
At no time was the hearing interrupted, and as I sat in front row of the hearing chamber, I did not hear a peep from the room beyond, which was separated from the appropriations hearing room by a hallway.
Interestingly, in Burton's deposition, the officer testified that there were no disruptions in the Senate hearing room.
When asked if he had to instruct Reza to be quiet that night, Burton replied, "No, not that I recall."
Indeed, if some people were being disruptive, why didn't Pearce, the Sergeant at Arms and Pearce's DPS flunkies simply remove the boisterous individuals at that time?
I'll tell you why, because this allegation of disruptiveness is bogus, an excuse for the shenanigans that followed.
Judge Martone even notes at one point that, "Five witnesses who observed the Senate hearing in the overflow room all testified that plaintiff did not engage in disruptive behavior."
And yet, Martone, an appointee of President George W. Bush, says that Pearce is entitled to "qualified immunity," even if it is "accepted as true that plaintiff was not disruptive."
Incredibly, Martone declares, "If plaintiff was mistakenly targeted as a disruptive member of the crowd, `that was unfortunate, but it did not violate the First Amendment.'"
Maybe the judge missed this little factoid: Reza was falsely arrested and imprisoned on February 24, 2011. The county attorney did not pursue charges against Reza from this arrest because Reza had done nothing wrong.
The judge seems clueless as to why this is more than just "unfortunate." Perhaps he's never been treated as Reza was that day. I suspect that if the same thing had happened to Martone, he'd sue faster than he can get that black robe on in the mornin'.
Martone practically sounds like Pearce's lawyer at one point, saying that Pearce genuinely believed Reza was one of the disruptive ones because Trapp and Burton had told him so.
"This belief," continued Martone, "coupled with the tense atmosphere at the Senate building on February 22, 2011, the arrest of protestors earlier in the day...as well as the shooting of 18 people at a political rally in Tucson, Arizona just six weeks earlier, provided an objectively reasonable basis for Pearce to conclude that action needed to be taken to protect and preserve safety and decorum in the Senate building."
Pffft. Pearce wasn't concerned about safety and decorum. He allowed legislators to pack heat in the Senate building, with one famously pointing her gun at a reporter. This, despite a state law banning weapons from the both the state House and Senate.