Share “Former lawmaker shouldn't be prosecuted,...”

Former lawmaker shouldn't be prosecuted, attorney tells Oklahoma Supreme Court

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: September 14, 2011
Advertisement

McCampbell asked the Supreme Court to strike down the June ruling and return the case to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which then could determine whether the criminal case against Leftwich should be dismissed.

Rowland said the criminal case against Leftwich and Terrill would proceed even if the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling is struck down.

“We still have ample evidence to go forward which wouldn't be covered by this,” he said. “Our prosecution will be able to go forward unless the Supreme Court does something which would be completely out of step with U.S. Supreme Court case law.”

Justices asked both attorneys several questions during the hourlong session.

Chief Justice Steven Taylor asked McCampbell more than once how any legislative immunity offered by the constitution could protect Leftwich and Terrill at meetings that were held away from the state Capitol, such as a restaurant in Moore where Terrill and Leftwich, according to prosecutors, met to discuss the legislation. He also questioned how the constitutional privilege could protect them if their discussions touched on, as prosecutors alleged, a possible job for Leftwich.

Justice John Reif asked, “Doesn't this kind of horse trading go on all the time?”

Reif said the House of Representatives and the Senate have the power to investigate allegations of misconduct by legislators and have the authority to discipline them. Lawmakers involved in mischievous deeds also face repercussions from voters at the ballot box, he said.

Rowland said any punishment handed down by the Legislature should not be the exclusive remedy.

“That shouldn't divest the criminal justice process from doing its job when the law is broken,” he said. “Furthermore, there has been a special House committee in session to investigate this for something in excess of six months. So far, there isn't any reason to think that they're going to take any action.”

Prosecutors allege that the position offered to Leftwich was defined and funded in two bills adopted by the Legislature last year.

The legislation was vetoed by former Gov. Brad Henry after the allegations surfaced.

Among other things, Terrill pressured officials at the state medical examiner's office to hire Leftwich, prosecutors say. He was chairman of a House budget subcommittee that authorized funding for the office.

Terrill, who did not formally join in Leftwich's appeal, attended Tuesday's hearing. Any ruling by the Supreme Court would affect Leftwich and Terrill alike.

“I am 100 percent factually and legally innocent,” Terrill said.

“I am confident as I always have been that I will be exonerated and ultimately vindicated.”