Senior Justice Alec Waid is eager to get back to work.
“I am more than grateful (for) the committee and their hard work, and I’m excited that the Court can now finally get back to doing what we do,” Waid said.
Tuesday’s Student Government (SG) Senate meeting brought relieving news for Waid and his fellow justices, who were previously under investigation for impeachment. Sen. Ralph Herz, chair of the Senate Impeachment Committee, announced the committee would not pursue articles of impeachment.
Chief Justice Lindsay Betros, Ranking Justice Milton Llinas and Associate Justice Chelsea Lo had also been accused.
On Oct. 27, an impeachment memo, proposed by SG Sens. Megan Summers, Muhammad Imam, Aladdin Hiba and AlaEldean Elmunaier and read before the Senate by Senate President Pro-Tempore Danish Hasan, called for the creation of a committee to investigate charges against the four justices.
The memo cited instances in meetings of the Declaratory Justice Panel (DJP) and Judicial Review Panel (JRP), where it was said the justices demonstrated malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, incompetence and abuse of power.
In an Oct. 20 meeting of the DJP regarding a ruling, the memo said the Court was out of its jurisdiction and the secret deliberations of that meeting violated Title II Sunshine laws.
Other charges came from the Oct. 23 meeting of the JRP where a decision by the Court would change the composition of the Activity and Service Fee Recommendation Committee, which the memo insisted the Court did not have the ability to do. It also said Llinas should have recused himself because a request for trial filed within hours of the memo was submitted by his roommate.
Despite some protest, an impeachment committee was formed at the Oct. 27 meeting. That committee held multiple meetings in which Betros and Waid felt their due process rights were being violated, citing examples of what they called collusion and interference of other branches in the committee’s processes.
Herz was confident the committee was following procedure. He was also confident in the decision the committee reached Tuesday.
However, during the meeting, there was an attempt to add a discussion of articles of impeachment to the agenda, as articles had been emailed to Hasan at 6:05 p.m., five minutes after the start of the meeting. SG Attorney General Richard LaMura said this meant it had to be added to the next scheduled Senate meeting- — but that isn’t why the issue was dropped.
Sen. Aladdin Hiba said there is time allocated at the beginning of SG meetings to add things to the agenda. After that time is over, additions to the agenda can be made using a supermajority vote of the Senate, which the Senate was just shy of after the vote at Tuesday’s meeting, causing the discussion to remain off the agenda.
As far as Waid is concerned, this is the end of this investigation. He said the committee had reached a decision and procedure says this is where it stops. He said, to his knowledge, there was only one impeachment committee operating, so he isn’t sure where those articles could have come from.
Herz, however, said he feels this isn’t the last time these articles will come up.
Hiba said the articles of impeachment might surface again, but he’s not trying to figure out whether or not it’s over.
“I’m very comfortable with them just not coming up,” Hiba said. “If they have to, statutorily or procedurally, I will be in favor just so that we’re following our statutes.”
Overall, Hiba said he is trying to distance himself from the situation. He also said he doesn’t want the justices to feel like they are being targeted.
“I am making every effort to make sure that they don’t feel like I am targeting them, specifically,” Hiba said. “I have made significant efforts to reach out to the judicial branch in working on other projects just to make it clear to them that this is not what I care about.
“This is a thing and I’m not going to ignore that this thing exists, but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing, of course, is advancing (SG) and advancing the interests of students.”
Waid also wants to bring things back to focus.
“My next step is to pull our branch back … to focus on what matters and that’s serving the student body by upholding the integrity of the (USF SG),” Waid said. “I hope the other branches are excited to bring everything back to normal, as well.”
Echoing a sentiment presented by Student Government Advising, Training and Operations Director Gary Manka and Herz that current SG statutes need to be reevaluated and possibly revised, Hiba said he intends to send in amendments to Title II.
“I hope that (SG) can go back to what it’s meant to do (by) serving the students, and I hope the other two branches have the same hopes and sentiments,” Waid said.