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Senate creates impeachment committee for chief justice

An impeachment committee formed by the Student Government Senate will begin to review and investigate charges against Chief Justice Sarah Heikkinen today.

The articles of impeachment, brought forward by Attorney General Cordell Chavis, charge Heikkinen with offenses of incompetence, abuse of power, nonfeasance and misfeasance (acts that are unlawful or improper).

Chavis said he asked Heikkinen to resign on three occasions during the past few weeks, but she refused.

One of the main charges against Heikkinen involves her alleged violation of the SG Code of Ethics and the Finance Code.

In January, Heikkinen planned to attend a conference in Washington, D.C., as a representative of the Judicial Branch, Chavis said. However, she actually attended the presidential inauguration during the trip.

The trip was funded by student fees, Chavis said.

The impeachment committee members — senators Kelly Budnick, Sarah Greenberg and Khalid Hassouneh — will meet today to begin investigating the merit of the impeachment charges.

If the committee chooses to proceed with impeachment, the SG Senate will likely vote on it at next Tuesday’s meeting, Chavis said.

The charges will then be brought to a judicial review committee, with half of the members appointed by President Genshaft and the other half by Senate President Juan Soltero, Chavis said.

Should Heikkinen be impeached, she will be removed from office and a replacement will be appointed by the student body president with confirmation by the SG Senate.

Heikkinen will continue to hold her position during the investigation.

She could not be reached for comment.