Several judges in the Student Government (SG) Supreme Court will soon be under investigation for impeachment after Tuesday night’s Senate meeting.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Danish Hasan introduced a memo that called for the creation of an impeachment committee that would investigate allegations against Chief Justice Lindsay Betros, Senior Justice Alec Waid, Ranking Justice Milton Llinas and Associate Justice Chelsea Lo.
The memo, proposed by senators Megan Summers, Muhammad Imam, Aladdin Hiba and AlaEldean Elmunaier, asserts that the justices in question showed malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, incompetence and abuse of power.
The memo cited instances such as an Oct. 20 meeting of the Declaratory Judgment Panel, whose members include Betros, Waid and Lo. In this meeting, the decision to hear and judge a case that went outside of the jurisdiction of the SG Supreme Court was “knowingly and purposefully” made in order to expand the influence of the court beyond its constitutional limits.
The memo said the panel also held deliberations about the matter off the record, which is a violation of state transparency laws.
“Beyond creating an environment where individuals are able to … influence the (opinions) of other justices, the actions have … effects of destroying student trust,” Hasan read from the memo.
However, Waid, who was present at the meeting, said that because the court is a court, it is protected by deliberative secrecy, a doctrine that allows courts to do deliberations in private in order to, as Waid said, “protect the court from political pressure.“
Another incident involved the Oct. 23 meeting of the Judicial Review Panel, of which Betros, Waid and Llinas are members. According to the memo, the panel heard a request involving the removal of specific statutes, a request the memo said it shouldn’t have heard because it did not deal with constitutionality, which is the extent of the court’s jurisdiction.
A third citation talked about a 2:30 p.m. meeting that Betros allegedly did not put out public information for until 1:27 p.m., which the memo said prevented the executive branch promotional group from having the opportunity to be heard and defend their status report, something the memo said exhibited lack of due process, incompetence and nonfeasance.
Waid said he recognized some of the wording in the memo, saying it was extremely similar to wording in a trial request submitted to the court by Student Body Vice President Michael Malanga a few hours prior to the senate meeting.
This, paired with Hasan getting up and moving to the back of the room to speak to Malanga and Student Body President Andy Rodriguez during the senate meeting’s discussion of the impeachment committee, was a major red flag to Waid.
After Hasan finished presenting the memo, there were deliberations over whether or not the Senate was informed enough to proceed with the creation of a committee to investigate allegations they didn’t feel fully educated on.
The motion to table the discussion was objected on the grounds that it interfered with SG policy and the Senate then decided to move forward in electing the senators who would serve on the impeachment committee.
The three senators elected to serve on the committee were Girgis Fahmy, Omar Amin and Ralph Herz.
Waid does not think that the allegations in the memo are the real reasons he is set to be on trial for impeachment. Rather, he said, it is the disagreement between the executive and legislative branch leaders and the opinions of the court that has brought these allegations to the table..
“The impeachment has no merit,” Waid said. “(It) is built solely off of anger stemming from not being able to unduly control the three branches of government.”
As for the incidents mentioned in the memo, he said they question the interpretation of the court. Waid believes that the court’s decisions were done according to procedure and in the court’s jurisdiction.
“I am here as a student who feels that they have been attacked and their rights have been violated,” Waid said.
If the justices are impeached, the court would be reduced to two remaining justices, and the court currently has no clerk. This would deem the court ineffective, which Waid said he believes is the ultimate goal of the members of the executive and legislative branches who seek to control the court.