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Legislative Immunity

Robert Wechsler
This blog has been closely following cases where the legislative immunity defense has been used in government ethics proceedings. This week, the same issue arose with respect to an open records proceeding in Wisconsin. According to an article posted on the Madison Isthmus site yesterday, Wisconsin's attorney general has argued in an open records proceeding that a state senator is immune from a suit...
Robert Wechsler
A poor and disconcerting judicial decision on local legislative immunity came down on May 24 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, Kickapoo Tribe v. Black.

The tribe made the argument in its brief that a watershed district...
Robert Wechsler
Last September, I wrote a blog post about the attempt by District of Columbia council members to block a subpoena by employing a legislative immunity defense. The case involves retaliation against a whistleblower who had alleged improper council input in the awarding of a lottery contract.

On Monday,...
Robert Wechsler

I did stop and and try to invoke legislative immunity, but the camera would have none of it.

—State senator Steve King of Grand Junction, CO, a career police officer, said jokingly about a red-light-camera ticket he received in Denver. He voted against banning red-light cameras in Colorado's municipalities. From an article in the Denver Post yesterday.
Robert Wechsler
Below is the text of a talk I gave at the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws conference this week. Due to time limitations, I was not able to share this entire text, so even those who heard the talk may want to read this and see what they missed. For those who have been following my posts on legislative immunity, this talk not only brings together a lot of information, but also adds a section on how much of a misnomer "absolute" legislative immunity is.

Robert Wechsler
Another serious problem posed by making a legislative immunity defense in the local government ethics context can be seen from reading the recommendation of the investigating panel of the Stamford (CT) board of ethics. In the section that provides reasons for dismissal of a complaint brought against a council member, the panel wrote:
    The case also presents significant legal...