After reading this headline, you might think that we’ve lost our common sense and are suggesting that the members of the Arizona legislature are above the law. But that’s what law enforcement has been telling police officers. A recent example illustrates the point.
Representative Paul Mosley (R – Lake Havasu City) was recently out for a drive. Mosley, who is a “freshman” state senator was, according to police, driving 97 mph in a 55-mph zone when he was pulled over by the police. During the stop, the officer’s body camera recorded Mosley bragging about driving over 140 mph. Between February 16, 2017 and April 5, 2017, Mosley was stopped at least half a dozen times for speeding, and other traffic violations, including one where a minor under 16 was in the front seat of Mosley’s speeding car without the benefit of a seat belt. In each case, Mosley received a warning. No ticket was ever issued for any of the violations.
If this sounds bizarre to you, wait until you hear the supposed reason for the failure to ticket, arrest or otherwise charge Mosley for his incredibly thoughtless, dangerous – and let’s not forget illegal – behavior. Mosley claims that because he is a member of the state legislature, he is immune from prosecution!
What is the Immunity for Legislators?
The concept of legislative immunity comes from the Arizona Constitution, which says that legislators are privileged from arrest (except in cases of felony, treason and breach of peace), and shall not be subject to civil process while the legislature is in session and for 15 days before the beginning of the next legislative session. Law enforcement interprets this as more than a “get out of jail free” card; rather, they say it’s a kind of blanket immunity that protects even the bizarre and dangerous behavior of Rep. Mosley.
But there’s more here than meets the eye. Since 2002, legislative attorneys have stated that speeding tickets do not fall under legislative immunity, that DUI’s likewise are not covered, and that civil process against legislators is not barred, merely requires the action to wait until the legislative session is over. In short, legislators are not above the law.
Mosley is being taken to task by his fellow legislators, and we predict there will be consequences.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004