S.A. court names DiMarzo student president

After a week full of filed grievances and pretrial hearings, Steven DiMarzo was officially sworn in as Student Association president last Thursday.

Michael Johnson, who was elected president by the election, was disqualified from taking office because his GPA did not meet the minimum requirement stated in the S.A. Constitution. He said that the elections committee invalidated his win and he refiled a grievance stating that the GPA requirement was exclusive.

The court heard Johnson’s case March 28, the Monday before the elected candidates were to be sworn in.

"The remedy that came out of that was that I was not eligible to take office," Johnson said.I didn’t ask for that remedy, I’m not exactly sure how the Supreme Court came to that decision. I was asking them to overturn the GPA requirement, I was not asking them to decide whether I should take office or not…however, apparently, they took it upon themselves to decide that I was not able to take office."

The court ruled against Johnson’s grievance because he did not meet the GPA requirement, Scott Silver, chief justice of the S.A. Supreme Court said.

"It was constitutional because it’s in the constitution," Silver said. "It doesn’t violate any college policy, it doesn’t violate any handbook policy, it doesn’t violate any Student Association policy and it’s written in the Student Association Constitution."

On Wednesday, March 31, Johnson filed a second grievance because he thought it was unfair that the court had made a decision regarding his candidacy when it should have been up to the legislature.

"I filed another grievance claiming that my due process was inhibited," Johnson said. Johnson said. "My initial thought of due process is that I wanted the court to overturn Monday night’s pretrial decision."

Johnson said he still believes that he is an official candidate because the elections committee validated him and allowed him to run for office.

DiMarzo found out after the hearing that he was to be sworn in as president.

"I’m here, I’m president until I’m told I’m not," DiMarzo said.

Johnson said that line of succession should have started after he was disqualified from office, making Vice President Elect T.J. Scandaliato president.

"A couple different things had been discussed, it came to the conclusion that line of succession was most likely going to kick in and that at the end it was almost a sure thing," Scandaliato said.

In a two-to-one decision, the court ruled that Johnson was ineligible throughout his entire campaign and therefore removed him retroactively from the ballot, Silver said. By making this decision, tDiMarzo was the only candidate running for president. Silver was the dissenting opinion.

"The court not only invalidly disagreed with me, but they upheld Monday night’s ruling and they also ruled that my entire candidacy was illegitimate," Johnson said.

Silver refused to say that making a retroactive decision was allowed by the court, but he disagrees that the court used it in their ruling.

"I felt that doing that is, in my opinion, questionable legal territory.

Because I feel that what’s done is done," Silver said. "I feel that the electorate had spoken in a certain way and I think that it’s important to understand that. I disagreed with their remedy."

Stefen Short, vice president emeritus, or retired, of S.A. said that the retroactive decision the court made is unconstitutional. Short said the only way to reverse the decision was if students filed a grievance to reverse.

"You’re not supposed to issue court orders during pretrial hearings," Short said. "But they decided they weren’t going to hear the case and then made a huge ruling which is completely ridiculous and not supposed to happen."

Silver contends that the court was in their legal boundaries to issue court orders at a pretrial hearing. There is nothing listed in the constitution, bylaws or code that prevents or allows the court to make a retroactive decision.

"When a grievance is filed the court has say over the grievance," Silver said. "The constitution nor bylaws nor code specifically say only decisions could be made out of trial. It’s up to interpretation of how the constitution and bylaws and code are written."

Short said the court was able to get away with making the decision they did because there is no way to check on the court.

"No one is in the position to say the court made this ruling, we’re not going to follow it unless there’s another case filed because there’s no check on the court," Short said.

If the vote had gone another way, Silver said, line of succession would have taken place.

"I felt that was the legal recourse but the other two justices did not," Silver said.

Upon making their ruling, the court issued three court orders. The first court order was that all candidates’ GPAs must be approved before the slate is posted. The second was that Johnson is still not eligible to be president. The third court order was that Johnson was never an eligible candidate on the slate. Silver did not agree with the third court order.

In 2006 the court issued a ruling that reversed the 2003 precedent, Silver said. However, the court never published their decision, and no record of it exists. The court was not provided with the information about the 2006 decision until after they ruled on Johnson’s case.

"There was a precedent set, that precedent was reversed and the new precedent was reversed last week," Silver said.

Short is calling for a special election to determine who should serve as president. Short said the court based its ruling from precedent from a case in 2003 when S.A. had a law in place that would allow the loser of an election to take office if the winner could not.

"That law was repealed when we based our code so that law no longer exists," Short said. "So the Supreme Court used that as precedent to decide this case."

The only person who can call a special election is the chief justice and Silver is uncertain if he will make that call.

Silver said the justices had the power to rule on the decision.

"As soon as a grievance is filed anything pertaining to the grievance the court can make a decision on," Silver said.

Short also wants to impeach the two associate justices, Alicia O’Grady and Sandra Michaca.

Sandra Michaca refused to comment for this story and Alicia O’Grady could not be reached.

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