Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce Claims "Absolute Legislative Immunity" in False Arrest of Sal Reza

Humiliated 12-point loser and ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce figures the rules don't apply to him. 

That's been a life-long pattern, from the shenanigans that got him fired from his post as head of the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles to the sham candidacy of Olivia Cortes in last year's recall election, which somehow Pearce knew nothing about, even though his friends, family members and hard-core supporters put her on the ballot.

That's why it should life nary an eyebrow that the prejudiced Mesa pol is claiming in federal court that he has "absolute legislative immunity" for his involvement in the false arrest and imprisonment of Phoenix human rights activist Salvador Reza last year at the state Senate.

See, Reza is suing Pearce in federal court over the incident, which occurred February 24, 2011. Reza was going to visit state Senator Steve Gallardo, when he was stopped by the Senate's security detail, made up of two plainclothes officers from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The DPS officers informed Reza that he was banned from entering the building and must leave by order of state Senate President Pearce, who had blacklisted Reza, supposedly because Reza had been "disorderly and disruptive" a couple of days before as he and other activists watched a senate appropriations committee hearing. 

Actually, I was at that committee hearing, and Reza was not in the room. Instead, he and a large  group of activists had been relegated to another room in the senate, where they watched the proceedings via a large TV set. Apparently, some of the activists applauded at different times, but neither Reza nor the others there were asked to leave.

When Reza returned to the Senate on the 24th, this was somehow used to justify banning him from the building. Reza asked the DPS officers for documentation of Pearce's order, and the DPS duo promptly arrested Reza and a woman who was with him, shoving Reza's face against a glass wall in the process.

Reza was kept in a room in the senate for an hour, then transported to the Fourth Avenue Jail, putatively for "trespassing," and held in custody for five hours. The county attorney has never prosecuted him, and Reza has since filed his federal lawsuit with the help of civil rights attorney Stephen Montoya, a bulldog of the law if there ever was one.

In the complaint, Montoya alleges false arrest and imprisonment, and accuses Pearce and the DPS officers of violations of Reza's rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

My favorite part of the complaint is where Montoya refers to Pearce as a "racist." Which he most definitely is. Read on:

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons