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Immunity Keeps Arizona Senator Out of Jail

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By Jason Beahm on March 03, 2011 9:17 AM

Certain jobs come with special perks. And while legislators aren't royalty, they receive one of hallmarks of the throne: legislative immunity.

The term actually comes from the parliamentary system, whereby members of the parliament, or in this case legislature receive immunity from prosecution in many circumstances. The legal concept is based on similar principles of diplomatic immunity.

Republican Scott Bundgaard, state senate majority leader of Arizona, was recently able to take advantage of legislative immunity after a domestic violence dispute. However, his girlfriend, Aubry Ballard, 34, was arrested for domestic violence assault in the incident.

According to Phoenix police, Scott Bundgaard reportedly pulled Ballard out of a car stopped next to a median on the road. When police arrived on the scene, they reportedly found both Bundgaard and Ballard, with marks on their bodies indicating that they had been in a physical altercation, Police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson told Reuters.

Bundgaard didn't waste time taking advantage of his immunity, he told officers at the scene that under Arizona law, he is immune from arrest while the legislature is in session. In fact, that's true, under Arizona law, Bundgaard is immune "in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace."

Scott Bundgaard has now released a statement saying that he is innocent of any wrongdoing. "I had no choice but to pull her from the driver's seat, which resulted in marks on her knees," Bundgaard said of the incident with Ballard, Reuters reports. He wasn't beneath throwing his girlfriend under the bus. "I had also had no choice but to stop her from punching me and risking highway safety, all of which resulted in a black eye for me and a busted lip ... I waive any and all 'legislative immunity.' If I did something wrong, charge me. I did not."

Not surprisingly, the couple said they were breaking up and asked for privacy in a statement, CNN reports.

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