Russell Pearce: No "Absolute Legislative Immunity" for Him, Court Says

Stephen Montoya (left) and Sal Reza, kickin' Pearce's backside in federal court
Stephen Montoya (left) and Sal Reza, kickin' Pearce's backside in federal court
Uriel Garcia

While recalled ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce was away in D.C. (likely on Judicial Watch's dime) preparing for his big day before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and, later, to hear oral arguments on Senate Bill 1070 before the U.S. Supreme Court, a different court here in Sand Land was giving him a much-deserved spankin'.

To be specific, it was U.S. District Court here in Phoenix. The jurist? Federal Judge Frederick Martone. The ruling? Pearce cannot claim "total legislative immunity" for every foul deed he ever did while state Senate President. 

You might recall that in March, I told you about how Pearce was claiming "total legislative immunity" in a cheap, desperate attempt to extricate himself from the federal civil rights lawsuit Reza v. Pearce, brought by local activist Sal Reza, because of Reza's false arrest and imprisonment at the state Capitol back in February of 2011.

Reza was arrested for "trespassing" after Pearce banned him from the state Senate building, putatively for "disorderly and disruptive behavior" two days before, but in reality because Pearce doesn't like Reza's harsh criticism of him (and also because Pearce is a colossal bigot). 

 

Though Reza was taken to the Fourth Avenue Jail and booked, the county attorney never prosecuted the case. (Hmmm, wonder why?) Reza had been at the Capitol that day to meet with state Senator Steve Gallardo. He had done nothing to be thrown up against a glass wall, as he was, and arrested. 

Civil rights attorney Stephen Montoya filed suit on Reza's behalf in June of last year, accusing Pearce and the Arizona Department of Public Safety officers who nabbed Reza of violating the activist's rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

In January, Pearce's attorneys at the Rose Law Group, the go-to law firm for wingnuts, filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that, "Senate President Pearce is entitled to absolute legislative immunity for the actions alleged in Mr. Reza's Complaint."

Judge Martone, however, did not agree, stating in his April 23 order that, "Absolute legislative immunity is by definition for legislative acts," and does not cover "actions taken by legislators `in their administrative or executive capacities.'"

(You can read the entire order for yourself, here.)

"I guess this means Russell Pearce is not above the law," Montoya told me when I asked him about the order. "And he's going to have to answer for what he did."

So the 12-point loser loses again. Here's hoping Reza, with Montoya's assistance, makes Pearce pay out the nose.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >