In a hearing Monday, Associated Students Judicial Council unanimously upheld a Legislative Council vote to allow A.S. presidential candidate Cervin Morris to run for office, though he is four units short of the requirements to declare candidacy.
A.S. Women’s Commission Chair Yomi Saiki filed a petition with Judicial Council stating that the majority of Leg Council members who voted were either running for an office or affiliated with an on-campus political party that had candidates running, thereby prejudicing the vote.
“This is such a blatant disregard of the students,” Saiki said. “The integrity of A.S. has been questioned. I have too much invested in A.S. to allow our integrity to be questioned.”
Morris dropped eight units during his freshman year due to a family crisis. At issue is whether or not Leg Council violated a conflict of interest clause in the A.S. bylaws when it allowed Morris to run with deficit units.
In its April 7 vote, Leg Council, which is comprised mostly of Student Action Coalition (SAC) and Students’ Party members, voted 11 to 10 in favor of allowing Morris to run for office. Morris is running with the Students’ Party.
Judicial Council allowed the Leg Council decision to stand, saying Leg members voted without conflict of interest and did their jobs to the best of their abilities under the circumstances. The council also upheld the Leg vote because the petition was filed without naming a respondent, which is in violation of A.S. bylaws.
“We let the vote stand as is. We believe the best way to resolve this is to let the student body vote,” acting Judicial Council Chair Nina Tringali said.
Voting members of A.S. boards and committees are responsible for bringing any personal interests they have in the outcomes of votes to the attention of the board or committee, according to the bylaws. The bylaws also state that members who have irresolvable conflicts of interest shall abstain from voting. Conflict of interest is defined as personal financial gain, personal gain of associates (friends or family members) or conflict in interests of A.S. UCSB with the interests of other committees, which may arise from the outcome of a vote.
During the proceedings, Judicial Council Chair Corina Garcia temporarily stepped down as chair, citing a conflict of interest because she is running for A.S. External Vice President of Local Affairs with SAC. Attorney General Jason Everitt also temporarily excused himself from the council because he is running with Students’ Party for a Representative at Large seat.
Saiki said the timing of the petition is not a political move, but one to protect students from A.S.’s bending and breaking of bylaws. She declined to state which bylaws or rules A.S. has bent or broken.
“If you look at Judicial Council, Leg Council and the Women’s Commission, we have been fighting them for a long time,” she said. “This isn’t a one time thing where we come out of the closet during elections. We have a history of fighting them.”
Prior to Monday’s hearing, Representative-at-Large Kristen Ditlevsen filed an informal petition with Judicial Council asking it to not hold a hearing on Saiki’s petition. Among other points in her counterpetition, Ditlevsen argued that Judicial Council is not a legitimate body to oversee the case because it does not currently meet weekly. The A.S. Constitution states that all members of the council must attend mandatory weekly meetings.
While Judicial Council said it took Ditlevsen’s petition into consideration, it decided to continue with the hearing. Council member Megan Garibadi said Judicial Council needed to hear the case before it affects the upcoming elections.
Morris, who claims he did not receive notification of the hearing, said he was pleased with the outcome but disappointed by Judicial Council’s decision to hold a hearing on the petition.
“I believe the people who wrote the petition on my behalf to defend me really went through the legal code,” he said. “Judicial Council knows the rules. They weren’t supposed to hold a hearing. They blatantly went against the legal code they’re supposed to defend.”
Ditlevsen said she was pleased with the council’s ruling.
“While they were forced to hold the hearing, I feel that they made the correct decision according to our legal code,” she said.