- Mosley’s case is unique in Arizona history
- He alleges via his two attorneys “selective prosecution”
- Blames “media storm” created after Parker Live broke story
- County Attorney quotes Thomas Jefferson and says Mosley must be held accountable
Former state representative Paul Mosley appeared in court Friday with two attorneys arguing that legislative immunity prevents him from being prosecuted for his March 2018 traffic violation.
Mosley’s attorneys David Stringer, a current Arizona legislator, and Michael Taylor, a consulting attorney on the case, say the scope of legislative immunity has “yet to be considered” by the Arizona courts and that they are unaware of any Arizona lawmakers who have asserted their privilege and later been prosecuted for the crime.
According to the Arizona Legislative Manual Glossary of Legislative Terms, legislative immunity is, “A limited constitutional privilege for legislators from civil process and arrest during and immediately preceding the legislative session.”
Mosley is arguing that his immunity as a lawmaker allowed him to drive his car through La Paz County at 97 miles per hour on March 27th, 2018 without being subject to a civil ticket or criminal prosecution. He is also alleging unfair treatment, citing a “media storm” created when Parker Live published the video of Mosley telling a Sheriff’s Deputy that he drives at up to 140 miles per hour.
“We have been unable to identify any other member of the legislature who has been stopped for a traffic violation, given a warning and then summoned to court after session ended,” Taylor told Justice of the Peace Tiffany Dyer. “So we think there’s an issue here of, potentially, selective prosecution.”
Citing case law, Taylor said legislative immunity does not end when the legislator leaves office, as Mosley did at the end of 2018 after losing his re-election bid. Taylor said there are functions within the legislature itself for punishing members who misbehave, such as the ethics complaint filed by fellow members against Mosley after his immunity claim became public, but that the legislative immunity is important for protecting the legislature from the other branches of government and should protect Mosley from his criminal speeding charge.
Taylor said the video of Mosley’s traffic stop was “leaked” to the press and that the fallout was unique and unprecedented, including an executive order by the Governor. This is misleading. In fact, Parker Live filed a public records request for the video, and the La Paz County Sheriff’s Department responded by releasing the video to us per our request, followed by many other news outlets nationwide who then followed the same procedure.
Dyer interjected to say that she, too, had seen the video in the news, and counsel replied that they did not have any issue with her having seen the video and believed she could still be impartial.
Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre, who is prosecuting the case, told the court that anybody can be pulled over for speeding.
“Let’s talk about what’s not selective at all about this. Black, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, everyone gets charged with excessive speeding. It just happens,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre said there are a whole list of misdemeanor offenses that, if Mosley’s defense was upheld, would then be protected acts under legislative immunity too.
“This isn’t the only crime implicated by the claims of the defendant. Shoplifting, criminal damage, theft, animal cruelty, driving on a suspended license. The counsels’ claim is that while the legislature is in session and 15 days prior, a member of the legislature can never be held responsible for any of these misdemeanor offenses, because, legislative immunity.”
McIntyre told the court that he believes legislative immunity is limited to acts “relating to legislative activity”, by “legislators acting in the scope of their official duties.” He said Mosley was stopped 200 miles away from the Capitol while heading home, “completely removed from his official duties.”
“This is an attempt to grossly expand the legislative privilege, because what we have here, a member of the legislative body at the time, quoting essentially the legislative manual, taking an excerpt of that, and using that to expand broadly what the privilege was intended to do.”
McIntyre cited a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, saying that “legislators ought not to stand above the law they create.”
In his rebuttal, Taylor said McIntyre was conflating the speech and debate clause with the privilege from arrest clause of the legislative manual, repeating the claim that there is in fact immunity to criminal charges and that it is there to prevent members of the legislature from being arrested. He said it is not there to protect legislators with respect to all crimes, but that it applies in this case.
Taylor told the court that Mosley “did not get away scot-free,” and in fact was subject to procedures within the legislature as is proper.
Rose Law Group Reporter claims Mosley has become an Uber driver, despite several instances of being stopped for speeding since 2017.
The parties are to submit to Dyer supplemental briefs within 30 days, and there will be a status hearing on Mosley’s case in May.