Justice’s activities draw ASG complaint

Elaine Helm

Associated Student Government’s Judicial Board must decide if and how to punish its own chief justice after hearing arguments Sunday afternoon on a complaint filed last week.

Chief Justice Mitch Holzrichter temporarily stepped down from his position on the board during the hour-long discussion of impeachment proceedings brought against him by Le’Jamiel Goodall, ASG financial vice president, and Bryan Tolles, a fraternity senator.

Goodall and Tolles said Holzrichter violated the law and spirit of ASG’s constitution and bylaws regarding the impartiality of a chief justice.

According to the bylaws, Judicial Board members have 14 days to reach a decision on what sanctions, if any, they will recommend after the hearing, which also included two other complaints.

Holzrichter debated amendments to the election guidelines, constitution and bylaws at three meetings of the Rules Committee and during a Senate meeting, said Matt Hall, ASG secretary and parliamentarian.

“I can’t see how any more partial you can be,” said Tolles in regard to Holzrichter’s alleged involvement.

Goodall cited an article in the constitution that prohibits justices from serving as members of committees and university-sponsored legislative or judicial bodies, as well as presidents and treasurers of student groups. Holzrichter — an advertising representative for Students Publishing Company, which publishes The Daily — also serves on Northwestern’s campus publicity committee and is a committee chairman for Model United Nations, a B-status student group.

Holzrichter said his involvement in Model UN never interfered with his role as chief justice. He also contested Goodall’s claim that he could loosely be interpreted as a member of the ASG legislative groups for which he spoke.

“Speaking does not imply membership, or Le’Jamiel is just as impeachable as I am,” Holzrichter said.

After he presented his argument, he requested the meeting be closed to petitioners and spectators. He later said he wanted to respect the confidentiality of individuals whose personal e-mails he shared with the Judicial Board.

But Tolles told The Daily after the hearing that he and Goodall should have been allowed to remain in the room because hearings may be closed only to “the public.” Justice Sam Adams, who served as chief justice during part of the hearing, declined to comment on the justices’ interpretation of the statute until they release a final decision.

Two petitions also were filed against Executive Board members. Jason Warren, former ASG rules chairman, contested ASG for the untimely release of its 2003-04 operating budget. Gia DiGiacobbe, Amnesty International senator, petitioned Executive Vice President Nicole Mash for not seeking Senate approval for appointees to the executive committee.

The first petition discussed during Sunday’s hearing alleged that ASG should have released its budget earlier than last week to Senate to allow debate about how money collected from the Student Activities Fee is spent. Warren, a Communication junior, said the Judicial Board should deal with ASG as it would deal with any student group.

“Student groups have been derecognized before for turning in their funding petitions a day late,” Warren said. “Why should ASG be, A) exempt from its own guidelines or B) get different treatment from other student groups?”

The ASG bylaws mandate that the budget be presented to Senate three weeks before the last meeting of the quarter. ASG Treasurer Edith Rivera presented the budget at Wednesday’s meeting. Senators will debate the budget this week at the final meeting of the quarter, unless ASG’s Executive Board decides to add a meeting during Reading Week. Speaker of the Senate Kawika Pierson said Sunday that the board had not yet decided on the extra meeting.

Senators received the budget in an e-mail late Tuesday night, at the same time as The Daily. The bylaws also stipulate that ASG must submit its budget to The Daily and post it online two weeks before presenting it at Senate. As of Sunday night, the budget remained unavailable on the ASG Web site.

ASG President Rachel Lopez said Warren’s petition was motivated by “personal grudges” and that the bylaws represent only suggested guidelines for ASG members to follow. Without demonstrating an intent to violate the bylaws, the Judicial Board cannot sanction the Executive Board, said Lopez, a Weinberg senior.

“Take this role very seriously,” she urged Judicial Board members. “You will determine ASG’s course of action with this decision.”

The new ASG budget proposal does not request the $30,000 in funding previously allocated to the Chicago Weekend Shuttle. The budget does include a $5,000 increase in funding for the ASG lawyer, a $4,500 increase for technology maintenance and the addition of a $6,000 line item for Executive Board copying costs.

The budget’s late release was not motivated by malicious intent but resulted from the timing of a financial misconduct hearing regarding the Chicago Weekend Shuttle, said Rivera, a Communication junior.

DiGiacobbe also presented her case against Mash for failing to have Senate confirm appointments to her Executive Committee, asking that Senate have the opportunity to confirm the committee’s newest member, Parrish Whitaker, and that Mash offer an apology.

Mash, a Weinberg senior, said she asked for objections to Whitaker’s appointment during the officer report in which she announced it.

“We did not stop specifically for a vote, but I’m assuming if there are no objections that means unanimous consent,” Mash said.