Ernie Chambers files complaint over Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh's DUI conviction -
Published Friday, July 12, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:39 am
Ernie Chambers files complaint over Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh's DUI conviction

LINCOLN — State Sen. Ernie Chambers filed a complaint with the Nebraska Supreme Court on Thursday against attorney and fellow Omaha lawmaker, Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh.

The complaint addresses Lautenbaugh's Feb. 27 arrest and subsequent conviction for aggravated drunken driving.

Chambers said the complaint had nothing to do with the fact that he and Lautenbaugh often take opposing positions during legislative debates.

Rather, he argued that public officials, especially those who are attorneys, must be held to higher standards because they occupy a position of public trust.

“When that trust is violated, consequences flow,” he said.

Lautenbaugh, however, said he does not expect that his drunken-driving conviction will be an issue.

He said he self-reported his arrest to the high court's Counsel for Discipline and was led to believe it would not be the basis for disciplinary action.

Chambers said that, when he notified Lautenbaugh about his plans to file the complaint, Lautenbaugh did not mention anything about having self-reported. Lautenbaugh said he could not remember when he made the report.

Lautenbaugh, 48, was stopped by a Douglas County sheriff's deputy near 147th Street and West Maple Road for driving erratically.

At the time of his arrest, he was ticketed on suspicion of first-offense drunken driving. But the city prosecutor amended the charge to aggravated first-offense DUI because Lautenbaugh's blood-alcohol level was .234, almost three times the legal driving limit of .08.

He pleaded guilty to the charge last month and was sentenced to two days of house arrest, one year of probation and a $500 fine. He also must use an ignition interlock device on his car for one year. The device prevents a car from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Chambers pointed out that Lautenbaugh has introduced and voted for bills that create harsher penalties for criminal offenses. Chambers also noted that he has filed previous grievances against other public officials who are attorneys.

In 1993, a Chambers complaint led to the Supreme Court's publicly reprimanding former Douglas County District Judge Lawrence Corrigan, based on his arrest and conviction for driving while intoxicated.

Contact the writer: Martha Stoddard    |   402-473-9583    |  

Martha covers the Nebraska Legislature, the governor, state agencies, and health, education and budget issues out of our Lincoln bureau.

Contact the writer: Joe Duggan    |  

Joe works in the Lincoln bureau, where he helps cover state government, the Legislature, state Supreme Court and southeast Nebraska.

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