My AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon has this today:
A North Georgia motel that is at the center of a lawsuit involving Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers is facing condemnation after its electricity was shut off last week amid financial troubles.
A top Calhoun official confirmed Monday the city will likely move in the coming days to shut down the Oglethorpe Inn, citing safety concerns over the lack of power there.
But the article also includes this:
Meanwhile, a lawsuit connected to the inn is still pending in court. The Bartow County Bank is suing Rogers and Graves, alleging the two owe the bank $2.2 million for a business loan that is now in default. Rogers and Graves, who took the loan out to buy and renovate the Oglethorpe Inn, have denied they owe the money….
An attorney for the Bartow County Bank said Rogers has invoked a provision of state law that allows for lawsuits to be put on hold during a state legislative session.
That was an eye-opener. We often joke that lawmakers are immune to speeding tickets while the General Assembly is in session.
But an entire chunk of the Georgia Code (O.C.G.A. § 9-10-150) is devoted to protecting state lawmakers from court actions related to civil suits any time the Legislature is in session — basically, the first four months of the year. And not just the lawmakers, but many of the people who work for them:
A member of the General Assembly who is a party to or the attorney for a party to a case, or any member of the staff of the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives, or the chairperson of the Judiciary Committee or Special Judiciary Committee of the Senate or of the Judiciary Committee or Judiciary, Non-civil Committee of the House of Representatives who is the lead counsel for a party to a case pending in any trial or appellate court or before any administrative agency of this state, shall be granted a continuance and stay of the case.
The continuance and stay shall apply to all aspects of the case, including, but not limited to, the filing and serving of an answer to a complaint, the making of any discovery or motion, or of any response to any subpoena, discovery, or motion, and appearance at any hearing, trial, or argument. Unless a shorter length of time is requested by the member, the continuance and stay shall last the length of any regular or extraordinary session of the General Assembly and during the first three weeks following any recess or adjournment including an adjournment sine die of any regular or extraordinary session.
State lawmakers are, at least in this respect, untouchable.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider