Daniel Patterson, Ex-Lawmaker, Files Lawsuit Claiming Legislative Immunity Was Ignored
|Dave Newman via Flickr|
|The old Arizona State Capitol building.|
Former state lawmaker Daniel Patterson claims in a federal lawsuit that his civil rights were violated when he was served with restraining orders and charged with domestic-violence crimes last year.
Patterson, a Democrat, claims the Pima County Sheriff's Office and the Tucson City Attorney ignored his legislative immunity, which he claims should have prevented him from being arrested, or served with restraining orders, in spats with both his then-girlfriend and ex-wife.
-Daniel Patterson Calls it Quits, Resigns From House
The immunity provision outlined in the Arizona Constitution is as follows:
6. Privilege from arrest; civil processProsecutors argued at the time that Patterson wasn't actually arrested, and that it was indeed a "breach of the peace."
Section 6. 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.
Patterson was acquitted of the charges anyway, after his then-girlfriend retracted her claims.
"As a result of the criminal prosecution, and the negative publicity generated by the prosecution, Plaintiff's employment prospects were negatively impacted and Plaintiff has suffered severe financial hardship," the lawsuit alleges. "Since this prosecution and the negative publicity surrounding this prosecution, Plaintiff has been unable to find employment in the area of politics or public policy."
The lawsuit also states that Patterson was forced to resign from the House of Representatives "[i]n light of the unfavorable publicity caused by this unfounded prosecution . . ."