Monday, January 26, 2015

Kentucky Senator seeks immunity from DUI charge

Kentucky state Senator Brandon Smith, arrested this month on a DUI charge, is making an effort to get the charge dismissed based on a 124-year-old law that says lawmakers are "privileged from arrest" during legislative sessions, according to Newsmax.

According to WKYT,  the law provides “The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place."

Smith was arrested Jan. 6, the first day of the legislative session.

Peter Voss, a political science professor,  told Lex 18 News legislative immunity was created because of problems between the crown and parliament. “It's safer to leave the people's elective representative in office voting and representing them, than it is to make it easy to lock them up," Voss said.

Questions have arisen as to whether the law would apply in Smith’s case. Although he was in session during the day, he was arrested on his way home from a friend’s house that night.

"The people who wrote the Constitution in 1891 did not intend to give blanket immunity to all legislators for any acts committed during the legislative session," Assistant Franklin County Attorney David Garnett told Lex 18. “Nobody is above the law."

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