Should Arizona Ditch Legislative Immunity For Lawmakers?

janyellingszd.jpg
James King
Legislative immunity is likely why Governor Glug-Glug doesn't have a DUI on her record.
Following the resignation of former state Senator Scott Bundgaard over the scuffle he got into with his former girlfriend on the side of a Valley freeway -- and the legislative fiasco that followed -- Democratic state Senator Steve Gallardo says he plans to introduce a bill that would do away with legislative immunity for state lawmakers.

The Arizona constitution defines legislative immunity as follows: "Members of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session. (Article IV, part 2, section 6.)."

The idea is derived from centuries-old English common law designed to keep the British king from locking up members of Parliament who disagreed with him (sound like anyone you know?).

In its contemporary application, as explained in Arizona's Legislative Manual, "Legislative immunity not only protects a legislator from liability but also from having to testify or produce documents in court proceedings relating to legislative activity and prohibits actions seeking declaratory judgments, injunctions and other legal actions against legislators acting in the scope of their official duties."

According to Phoenix police, Bundgaard claimed legislative immunity the night of the fight, which is why he wasn't arrested. His former flame, Aubry Ballard, however, wasn't so lucky -- she spent that night in the slammer as Bundgaard was allowed to go home.

Bundgaard denies he ever claimed legislative immunity -- a claim many lawmakers in the former senator's own party think is BS.

Governor Jan Brewer also has benefited from legislative immunity -- in 1988, then-state Senator Brewer slammed her car into the back of a minivan after drinking what she claimed was two glasses of scotch.

Despite failing nearly every field sobriety test in the Department of Public Safety's arsenal, because the Legislature was in session at the time, Brewer claimed legislative immunity -- before authorities measured the future governor's blood alcohol content.

Get all the details of Jan's wild ride here.

Had the cops checked Governor Glug-Glug's BAC at the time of the accident, they could have used the results to potentially charge Brewer with DUI when the legislative session was over. They didn't, though, and Brewer caught an apparent pass -- all thanks to legislative immunity.

Given what seem to be abuses of the statute, we want to know what you think: should Arizona do away with legislative immunity?

Cast your vote below.




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22 comments
Gerry_C
Gerry_C

I think that Legislative immunity is a good thing.  Think what Henderbulk might have done without it?   The problem is we elect a few that can't seem to follow the laws.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Without immunity, the legislators would be exposed to the true nature of government in our time and that is the police state.    Who cares about Scott What's his name?    The system worked in that case.    The legislative body and the media pressured him into resigning.    Politicians are always going to have their perks and they'll abuse them to save themselves or to pressure others to do their bidding.   The system would work if the other parts of society and government didn't allow blackmail, bribery and corruption to exist and decide the fate of mankind.    On the other hand, the system is broke because of greed which influences the common man and psychopaths who are at the very top of the leadership in national government, the military and corporations.   They are the one percent and we, the ninety nine percent, sit around and hope they don't ruin our lives, take our money or out right kill us.   They control the enforcers of the world and until the enforcers stop conducting illegal activity against the ninety nine percent, we don't have a chance.  This Arizona State Senator issue is an example of a stupid psychopath who allowed himself to be exposed plus he didn't have enough power to survive after he was exposed.   Anyway, I don't think these forums will be allowed to exist in their current form for much longer.  

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Without immunity, the legislators would be exposed to the true nature of government in our time and that is the police state.    Who cares about Scott What's his name?    The system worked in that case.    The legislative body and the media pressured him into resigning.    Politicians are always going to have their perks and they'll abuse them to save themselves or to pressure others to do their bidding.   The system would work if the other parts of society and government didn't allow blackmail, bribery and corruption to exist and decide the fate of mankind.    On the other hand, the system is broke because of greed which influences the common man and psychopaths who are at the very top of the leadership in national government, the military and corporations.   They are the one percent and we, the ninety nine percent, sit around and hope they don't ruin our lives, take our money or out right kill us.   They control the enforcers of the world and until the enforcers stop conducting illegal activity against the ninety nine percent, we don't have a chance.  This Arizona State Senator issue is an example of a stupid psychopath who allowed himself to be exposed plus he didn't have enough power to survive after he was exposed.   Anyway, I don't think these forums will be allowed to exist in their current form for much longer.  

Albert
Albert

It just needs to be amended and state that legislators are just like everyone else, and can be arrested at anytime for breaking the law, that would require an arrest. 
And they still can keep their "immunity" while on the floor.(speech immunity)

Oh and we need to change the section in the Arizona Constitution about legislatures violating VOTER enacted legislation. I have no idea how many times it's been violated in the last year, but even once, is one too many. They need to go to jail, pay a large fine (themselves.. not from a govt. spending account) and be forced to give up their position for 10 years.... or something.. I almost forgot something.... And for all politicians (elected and non elected), not doing the will of the voters, or going against.... them will receive the same or similar punishment... maybe it should be worse? 

david saint
david saint

the law doesnt need to be ditched, but rather expanded upon.  Maybe a special form for when they break the law, something that stands out or otherwise, that way when session is over then  they are addressed specifically.  Im with shadeaux, it would just open the door for more retribution if we got rid of it..

teknik1200
teknik1200

wouldn't this constitute a "breach of the peace"?

DG
DG

FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!

Hock
Hock

I don't think the concept needs to be thrown up, but it needs to be updated.  If you don't think Sheriff Joe types are capable of arresting a legislator before an important vote, than I feel you're naive of the evil and corruption today's politicians are capable of committing.  That being said, the law could be modernized to clarify what crimes should be given immunity, and which should not.

Royalphoenix2
Royalphoenix2

Proves that beyond any doubt, Republicans and Democrats are failed political parties. I hope these state senators who think they are going to get elected to congress read this story. peace

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

The law is outdated and unnecessary, much like The disgraced ex legislator who used it.

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