Sunday, July 18, 2010

Terrill Says Constitution Protects Him From Probe

By Nolan Clay/The Oklahoman ~ State Rep. Randy Terrill is asking a judge to halt a state grand jury investigation into political corruption allegations.
Terrill claims he cannot be questioned before a state grand jury about legislative activity because of this language in the state constitution: "Senators and Representatives shall, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during the session of the Legislature, and in going to and returning from the same, and, for any speech or debate in either House, shall not be questioned in any other place."
Terrill, R-Moore, contends the state constitution "absolutely" protects legislators from having to answer questions before the grand jury about legislative activity.

Terrill is under investigation because of allegations he conspired to create an $80,000-a-year state job for Sen. Debbe Leftwich so she would not run for re-election and so his friend, Rep. Mike Christian, could seek her seat.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater launched the investigation in June and is now focusing on Terrill and Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. The prosecutor confirmed Friday that Christian, R-Oklahoma City, is no longer a subject of the investigation.

The district attorney has permission to put evidence about the allegations before the state's multicountry grand jury. The grand jury next meets Aug. 16-18.

Terrill and Leftwich had been subpoenaed to appear Monday before the grand jury but officials decided Friday to cancel the July session.

Terrill's attorney told the grand jury's judge that even if everything Prater believes is true, "those motives cannot be inquired into by the grand jury or... Prater... They are not criminal acts."

Terrill is being represented by attorney Stephen Jones, who is widely known for defending Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh at a 1997 federal trial.

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