Don Balfour Argues He Should Be Expelled

December 6, 2013 10:45 am

by Charlie · 8 comments

Well, not exactly.

State Senator Don Balfour’s attorney is in a hearing this morning, with reports indicating that his attorney is arguing that under Georgia’s Constitution and the doctrine of Separation of Powers, that the Executive Branch does not have the authority to prosecute a member of Georgia’s General Assembly.

Think about that for the moment.

The argument is tantamount to claiming that members of the General Assembly are above the law.  Balfour would likely argue that point, saying that the General Assembly is responsible for any trial and punishment.

One of the theories on this move is that Balfour, after asking for a speedy trial, is actually looking for a delay tactic.  Presuming the judge rejects this claim, Balfour could appeal the judges ruling and the time waiting for a verdict on the appeal would give Balfour time to return to the Senate for the next session.

Except, the Senate has the power to expel Balfour if they wish.  That option must not only be on the table, but one that should be used on day one.  If not, the rest of the legislature is again painted with the broad brush that they buy into the assertion argued by Balfour that they are above the law.

Balfour has already been expelled from the GOP caucus.  The votes for expulsion shouldn’t be much more difficult to muster.

Updated: The AJC’s Chris Joyner has more details here.

peachpundit (@peachpundit) December 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

New post: Don Balfour Argues He Should Be Expelled http://t.co/5R7bof2IAG #gapol

Napoleon December 6, 2013 at 11:05 am

That’s what happens when you hire Ken Hodges as your attorney. There are some words I’d like to use to describe this reasoning, but as their as a family blog, I’ll stick with “poppycock” and “balderdash!”

Will Durant December 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

This was the argument put forward in this forum by the defender of lobbyists, PACs, and the bidness-as-usual-practices of our state legislators, Bob Loblaw. Is this the nom de plume of one of Mr. Balfour’s attorneys?

I know people go on about the trivial amounts of money in this case but you have to understand that actually convicting most politicians of anything is like trying to nail jello to the wall.

Harry December 7, 2013 at 2:23 am

“Why should you go to jail for a crime somebody else noticed?” – Bob Loblaw
“Ah, yes. The Bob Loblaw Law Blog. You, sir, are a mouthful.” – Tobias Fünke

John Konop December 7, 2013 at 7:01 am

Harry,

I have never met Bob Loblaw, only know of him from comments on this blog. After reading his comments no one can argue that he is a very bright guy, and I would bet a top notch lawyer. He is paid to advocate for his client…..and use whoever argument within the law…….many dislike lawyers until they need one…..My take is Bob is doing his job. I do think everyone does deserve the best defense they can get…..I have debated points with Bob, but our country needs people like him to balance the justice system.

Harry December 7, 2013 at 11:29 am

“We’re not here to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw.” – Michael Bluth

Will Durant December 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm

According to Jim Walls’ Atlantaunfiltered site Balfour’s “campaign fund” doled out $80,000 in attorney’s fees in 2012 and this was long before any indictments, etc. in the court system. Surely this was not just to defend him in front of the Senate’s kangaroo court. In any case he still has more than $600k left in the “campaign fund” which is down about a third from its peak. His “campaign fund” should still be able to support a vigorous defense even if they end up taking little matters like this all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.

DavidTC December 9, 2013 at 10:35 am

It looks like his lawyer is trying to confuse the issue. If the state senate has rules, then, yes, only the state senate can punish someone for breaking those rules.

The problem is, of course, that Balfour was _criminally charged_, which, uh, rather implies that the prosecutor asserts he violated some specific _laws_. Whether or not he did violate those laws is up to a jury, but those laws actually existing as laws is not really up for dispute.

The defense can’t turn laws (Which are things passed by both houses, signed by the governor, and part of the Georgia code) into things that are merely senate rules (Which are just passed by a single house, written in a rulebook, and that’s it) by wishful thinking.

And, yes, it’s is perfectly fine to have laws that just apply to be behavior of state senators, and how they behave in the senate. And, inf act, it’s perfectly fine for the state senate to punish him for things that are actual criminal violations, and that he also can be arrested for.

If confused, think about it this way: It would be like company you work for requires you to properly dispose of cooking oil, or they dock your pay. Likewise, county law requires that also. But instead, you carry it outside and dump it on the ground.

You don’t get to argue, when in court for that act of littering, that you can’t be fined for that because the company already docked your pay for that. That’s complete nonsense.

Likewise, senate ethic punishments do not somehow make you immune to actual criminal prosecution for the same actions. Otherwise, the senate could literally make itself immune from all laws by creating ‘ethic violations’ that were one penny apiece. (Granted, if the legislature wanted to make itself immune from all laws, it could in the actual laws, but that at least would require both houses and the governor to agree.)

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