The Student Government (SG) Supreme Court doesn’t think an impeachment committee that decided last month not to pursue charges against SG Senate President Pro Tempore Matthew Diaz did its job properly.
The Court is giving the Senate another chance to form another committee before the end of the semester or the Court will initiate its removal process, in which Diaz will be tried of his charges.
SG Chief Justice Kristen Corpion said the Court’s decision – which was announced Thursday – to call for the creation of a new committee with none of the original members is not a recommendation for Diaz’s impeachment, but for a proper investigation.
“A violation of statutes took place for about five months,” Corpion said. “We were in agreement on the fact that you can’t violate statutes for five months and then argue that it does not warrant investigation at least.”
From September 2009 to Feb. 1, Diaz did not update the SG Web site with minutes from the Senate meetings.
According to SG statutes, one of Diaz’s jobs is to “maintain the legislative area of the SG Web site” and “ensure that all documents of the (Legislative) branch are kept up to date.”
USF student Brian Goff, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, filed impeachment charges in February on the grounds of nonfeasance – “failure to perform an act that is either an official duty or legal requirement,” according to SG statutes.
On Feb. 23, the original impeachment committee said the issue did not merit impeachment, the minutes on the Web site are now up to date and Diaz’s job description is vague, which prompted Goff to file an appeal on March 24.
“I felt that the committee did its job,” said Christian Marble, chairman of the initial impeachment committee and senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. “My concern was with the provision (the Court) added … that kind of goes against the whole idea of separation of powers because really, according to the SG constitution, it’s up to the Senate to have the power of impeachment.”
Corpion said it is within the Court’s jurisdiction to rule on all complaints dealing with SG, but since it can be considered a “gray area,” it will be up to the Senate to decide the next step.
“I think it would have been stepping out of our boundaries if we went straight to the investigation, if we determined the impeachment and we didn’t do either,” she said. “That’s why we are sending it back to the Senate. We’re essentially placing the ball in their court. The first committee that set up didn’t do a good job, so try again.”
But SG Attorney General Cordell Chavis said in an e-mail that Senate president Jennifer Belmont has filed a petition for reconsideration to the Court on behalf of the impeachment committee and the Senate.
“It is my opinion that the Court does not have the ability to by-pass impeachment process, which is a power explicitly granted to the Legislative branch of SG by the Student Body Constitution,” Chavis said.
Marble said the next step for the Senate is to create a new impeachment committee.
A certiorari, a recommendation from the Supreme Court to the Senate, says: “Should the Senate fail to comply by not completing the process … the Court will take the appropriate action.”
That action, according to the certiorari, will be the Supreme Court removal process, where Diaz would be tried of the charges by the Court.