Former state lawmaker Don Shooter does not have a civil rights action against the State, J.D. Mesnard and Kirk Adams because of his 2018 expulsion, the 9th Circuit ruled today. Shooter had claimed that his rights were violated by a conspiracy between the Governor's Chief of Staff (Adams) and the Speaker of the House (Mesnard) to get rid of him without due process.
Shooter's suit was dismissed by the federal court judge in 2019, and today's 3-0 decision agrees with the dismissal. Judge Daniel Collins notes that Shooter agreed that the State of Arizona should not have been sued, and that the trial court judge was correct in finding that Mesnard and Adams had qualified immunity.
Shooter also tried to claim that his rights were violated because a new "zero tolerance" sexual harassment policy enacted in the wake of the allegations was enforced retroactively. The Court seemed most offended by this argument, noting that Shooter would have had to show that the previous policy permitted his behavior.
Shooter has utterly failed to do so. As noted earlier, the allegations against Shooter included the following: that he “grabbed and shook his crotch” in front of a female government affairs officer from the Arizona Supreme Court; that he made “sexualized comments” about a female lobbyist’s appearance; and that he hugged a female newspaper intern “in a prolonged, uncomfortable, and inappropriate manner.” The notion that the Arizona Legislature previously permitted this type of conduct is simply implausible, and nothing in Shooter’s complaint supports such an inference.
On June 30, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Mesnard had legislative immunity for part of the separate defamation action brought by Shooter. However, that case will move forward because they also ruled that Mesnard did NOT necessarily have immunity for a news release that he sent out about the matter. A status conference is set for September 10.
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