The second meeting of the senate impeachment committee has brought uncertainty and worry for the judges under investigation.
Four Student Government (SG) Supreme Court judges including Chief Justice Lindsay Betros, Senior Justice Alec Waid, Ranking Justice Milton Llinas and Associate Justice Chelsea Lo, are facing five allegations.
As defined by a memo requesting impeachment from last week’s Senate meeting, the charges are as follows: Abuse of power is “the use of one’s power to coerce or unjustifiably influence any fellow member of (SG).”
Incompetence is “lack of qualification, inadequate qualification, or the lack of qualities necessary to fulfill the duties of a position.”
Malfeasance is “commission of a wrongful or unlawful act involving or affecting the performance of one’s duties.”
Misfeasance is “performance of a lawful action in an illegal or improper manner or with improper or corrupt motive.”
Nonfeasance is “failure to perform an act that is either an official duty or a legal requirement.”
At last week’s senate meeting, the memo was added to the agenda shortly before the meeting began and was read aloud to those present. The memo was proposed by senators Megan Summers, Muhammad Imam, Aladdin Hiba and AlaEldean Elmunaier. At that same meeting, a committee was put together to investigate the allegations against the court.
The three senators elected to the committee by the Senate were Girgis Fahmy, Omar Amin and Ralph Herz. Since its inception, the body has met twice and will meet once again today from 5 to 8 p.m. in MSC 3702.
Since the committee was created, Betros and Waid have been outspoken in their disagreement with the reasoning behind these impeachments, believing them to originate from legislative and executive branch leadership not agreeing with court opinions, a position those leaders either denied or refused to comment on.
Wednesday, Betros and Waid attended the impeachment committee meeting and said they were not happy about what they saw.
According to Betros, Waid and Llinas, Wednesday’s meeting was concerning due to the involvement of student body Vice President Michael Malanga.
The committee has requested multiple records in order to gather information for their investigation. One such request was the audio recording taken by student body President Andy Rodriguez during the Oct. 23 meetings of the Declaratory Judgement Panel and Judicial Review Panel, two judiciary panels whose members collectively involve the four justices being investigated for impeachment.
That audio recording was played before the committee at Wednesday’s meeting by Malanga. For Betros, Waid and Llinas this raised concerns.
Malanga said that the audio recording was requested on Wednesday, the day of the meeting, so he was trying to get the recording to them as fast as possible. The size of the recording made him unable to send it and that is why he brought it in himself. He plans to put it on a disc and give it to them.
Another concern of the justices was committee procedure, which Waid called “bumpy at best.” The justices had a number of concerns over the way the meeting was conducted, including a part of the committee where the accused were asked to leave the room and then deliberations occurred, which Betros and Waid said they understand the need for but are confused by considering part of the charges against the justices are about them holding their deliberations in private.
However, Herz stressed that the committee was following procedures.
“We are walking through the procedure and the process that has been laid out for us,” he said.
The committee has also requested records from the judicial branch that have yet to be turned over. Betros said this is because the court wants to be thorough in giving the committee the records it asked for.
“We did not submit the … records (Wednesday) because we felt that it wasn’t the right time,” Betros said.
The court has until Friday to hand over the requested information.
“We just hope we get a word in before it’s too late,” Waid said.