Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Update: Ben has posted it at Calstuff.
SA has submitted their appeal for their case. It clocks in at ten pages, and is filled with... well... stuff. Some of it is reasonable. Some of it is laughable. I should note that Ben's earlier attempt to appeal another decision was rejected because it didn't raise arguments that could've been raised at the original trial. Hopefully the same standard is used, because a lot of the appeal comes straight from the defense brief. Now, I'll just go down the list. Be sure to read the whole thing, even if you have to do it in several sittings, because there are some awesome gems in here, including an OJ reference.
We start with the title:
The Appeal for the Direct Judgment of Ratto v Vakil issued on the Seventh of June, 2006
Ouch. That's not a good start. The decision was issued the 14th (er... Fourteenth).
Next comes the threat:
We urge the Judicial Council to consider this appeal carefully. Violations of the Constitution, By-Laws, and JRPs are not only cause for internal concern. The ASUC is a state actor, and violations of its procedures that guarantee individual rights are actionable under the state and federal Constitutions.
Uh oh! Dun dun DUUUUUN!!!
And now on to the grounds. The titles of these sections are direct quotes from the decision.
I. The Judicial Council Violated Its Rules of Procedure and Mr. Vakil's Due Process Rights
A. The Judicial Council's Violation of Its Own Rules of Procedure Violated Mr. Vakil's Due Process Rights
Well, no brevity points. This point argues that, because no recording was kept, as required by the JRPs, the due process rights of Suken Vakil have been violated. I think this is their strongest argument. The rest of this section is not so strong.
They go on to say that the folks who witnessed Vakil lying out of his ass (including the Judicial Council) were wrong, and in the process, lie out of their ass. Again.
Mr. Vakil argued that chalk is effective campaigning for one day; in issuing its decision, the Judicial Council relied on a Daily Californian article by Katlyn Carter that quoted him as saying chalk lasts for one day.
This is a lie. The word "lasts" was Vakil's. In any case, testimony refuted both potential meanings.
In the weight of overwhelming evidence in favor of the Mr. Vakil's position, an official count of what transpired originally on May 9th is necessary.
Right. Chalk is effective campaigning for one day. How overwhelming is the evidence for that? Apparently, common sense and experience don't count as evidence.
Anyway, I think this is the most likely grounds for appeal to be accepted, because no record is no record.
B. The Judicial Council Violated Mr. Vakil's Right Not to Be Compelled to be a Witness Against Himself
The argument here is that while Vakil's testimony was sort of suppressed, it wasn't really suppressed. I guess. Apparently, it came up at the trial. Still, since it wasn't used in the decision, no damage was actually done, so I dunno what their point is.
C. Mr. Vakil's Alleged Violation is Not One Imputable to the Four Executives
Andy Ratto filed the case against Suken Vakil directly. Vakil was found in contempt, and a default judgment was filed against the executives in the previous case, where they were the defendants. I think the Judicial Council is on solid ground here, because this hearing was to find Vakil in contempt for his behavior. The impact on the executives was incidental, and they had the opportunity in their original trial to put a guy who isn't a liar in the appropriate position.
In Ratto v. Vakil, Mr. Vakil is representing himself against the personal of perjury. He is not acting on behalf of the Executives. None-the-less, the Judicial Council has held the Executives liable for an offense they did not help commit, violating their due process rights.
Haha! You help commit an offense if you appoint a spokesperson who commits that offense, so I don't think so.
****BEGIN OJ REFERENCE****
Consider the absurdity of the Judicial Council's position. Let us say that Johnny Cochran had misrepresented a fact as O.J.'s attorney in his murder trial. You would not be able to sue Johnny Cochran at a later date and send O.J. to jail for murder.
****END OJ REFERENCE****
The appeal sheet doesn't specify which "O.J." is being referred to, so I think we need to discount this. But the real argument is that this isn't big people court. The ASUC doesn't follow the same rules as the government. Still, I think this goes into the "maybe" pile.
D. The Remedy Provided By the Judicial Council Is Not the One Charged
The claim is that Andy was asking for election charges, rather than contempt charges. I'm inclined to agree with the complaint here.
Mr. Ratto sought remedies for violating a lawful order of the Judicial Council and obstruction of justice by interfering with the Attorney General.
I actually suggested that, on these grounds, Andy should file the case directly against the executives. However, the contempt charges would have to be filed against Vakil. It's not clear to me, though, that the Judicial Council is limited to declaring contempt only when it is charged. In fact, this normally isn't the case, nor do individuals get the opportunity to defend themselves through a new hearing. I see no fundamental legal problem with declaring Vakil in contempt of court for previous hearings because of things that come out in a new hearing. I should note, though, that if you follow this argument, Andy was not charging anyone with anything, and in the course of SA's defense against "nothing," they were found in contempt. Anyway, while I agree with the complaint, I don't think it raises a real legal problem.
E. Mr. Vakil Was an Advocates, not a Witness
I'm above making fun of subject-verb agreement. This is much along the same lines as my previous concerns on the topic of spokesperson/witness distinction. Read the comments from Bobby and Mike if you want the opposing view.
II. The Judicial Council Had No Power to Disqualify the Four Executive Candidates
A. Due to Their Delay In Certifying the Election After the Start of the Executives' Terms, the Executives Are Already Properly In Office
The newly elected Executives are already properly in office. Article II, §1.A of the ASUC Constitution specifies that executives assume their duties "beginning the first day of the regular Summer Semester," which began on May 22nd. According to Art. VII, §1.A. of the Constitution, any by-law that conflicts with a provision of the Constitution is void. Thus, any by-law provision that prevents the winners of the election from taking office at the start of their terms, as required by the Constitution, is void. This would include the certification requirement in Title IV., §16.1.4 when it is used to delay assumption of office in violation of Article II, §1.A of the Constitution.
This is interesting, because apparently, even though no winners have been declared, they are required to take office. To say that the SA folks are the "winners" is, of course, absolutely false, because it has not been determined, as only the Senate can declare election results. This does raise a constitutional conundrum, though, because the Constitution has no provision requiring that the election be resolved by this time. Luckily for us, though, the SA folks are kind of pulling stuff out of their ass, without context. The full clause is:
They shall be elected during the Spring semester, and their term of office shall be for one year, beginning the first day of the regular Summer Semester.
So the term has begun. That doesn't require that someone be seated in the post. In fact, the Constitution recognizes vacancies as possible. Technically, right now, there are no Executives, since the terms of the old ones have ended. Further, it is conceivable that, because the offices are vacant right now, the Senate can fill the posts themselves using the process for vacancies.
Anyway, this is all speculation. The point is, there's no requirement that the election be resolved by now, so SA is pulling even more shit out of their ass.
B. The Judicial Council Has No Power to Overrule Its Final and Unappealable Decision Via a Collateral Attack in a Later Case
While SA is getting a bit adjective-heavy on this title, I think it says it all, and I also think they have a valid argument here. It's not clear that the Judicial Council has the authority to change an old judgment like this.
C. Disqualification As a Remedy Violates the Command that All Election Remedies Be Clearly Delineated in the ASUC By-Laws
First, ask your SA buddies to clearly delineate the ASUC by-laws, then we'll talk. Once again, SA is using its incompetence as a defense. But they don't really have one here, because the argument is that this isn't a specific violation in the by-laws, when in fact it is, because the censures are being issued for the illegal chalking, not the contempt.
They then repeat their stuff from their brief on how they didn't really violate a lawful order from the Judicial Council, which is fascinating, but since the Judicial Council quite explicitly declined to address that charge, they're really talking about nothing relevant.
D. The Judicial Council's Role in Certifying Elections Is Entirely Perfunctory
Basically, the argument is that the Judicial Council doesn't have the legal authority to postpone certification of the results.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, certification means "the action of certifying or guaranteeing the truth of anything; attestation." Certification simply involves attesting that the returns of the results are properly reported, not inserting additional legal requirements. Here, the Council has attempted to use its certification responsibility to allow it to continue hear elections cases after the properly elected representatives have assumed office. However, any attempt by the Judicial Council to go beyond the scope of its certification powers (by using it to extend the time to hear suits) is void.
Here's a tip: If the Judicial Council shouldn't have had this power, they wouldn't have been given it. But if you want to play the dictionary game, keep in mind that the "results" aren't clear until all cases have been resolved, so they can't "attest" to anything until they finish with the cases. Here they're doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing.
I should add that sometimes "perfunctory" stuff needs to be treated with care. The whole issue with wording the RSF ballot question occurred because the Senate voted to approve the previous week's minutes without actually looking at them.
E. The Judicial Council Did Not Have Quorum to Hear Ratto v. Vakil
The Judicial Council's met officially in Ratto v. Vakil without having the proper number of members present. According to §6.1 of the JRPs, quorum shall consist the majority of the eligible Justices. According to §6.9 of the JRPs, for a resignation to be effective, verifiable documentation of the resignation must be submitted to the Chair or the Council sitting en banc. There are nine Justices on the Judicial Council: only four participated in Ratto v. Vakil. Two have allegedly resigned, but at least one has not submitted verifiable documentation to the chair (since he is the Chair and the Chair cannot resign to himself while Chair). Moreover, the Council at no time was sitting en banc to accept the resignations. Thus, even allowing for the Chair's resignation, one Judicial Council member has resigned, leaving eight Justices, making a meeting of four of them improper.
I dunno the details of how en banc everyone was. Maybe Bobby can shed some light here, since he's still, apparently, the Chair, and can't resign himself. Ever. Let me say that I received this documentation, so I'd have to assume that the Chair, whoever it was, and all justices did, too.
III. Mr. Ratto Acted in Bad Faith
This is pretty much a reprint from the brief. If they didn't accept it at the hearing, I don't see how they can accept it now. One new detail is that Andy has graduated, and thus was not a student and coudn't bring the case. The Constitution is notoriously vague on where the boundaries between "student" and "non-student" are drawn, and cases have been brought up two years in a row without any effort from the Senate to resolve the issue. Seeing as how he was allowed to participate in the election, though, and he is, conceivably, still a candidate and could be charged with violations, he still has rights as a student, and would be able to speak for himself if charged, even though this is reserved for members of the ASUC. So I think this is also pretty bunk.
IV. The Decision Is Inequitable
Basically, there was too much speculation in the decision as to the impact on the first hearing, and so it wasn't determined that it prevented the plaintiff from receiving a fair hearing. I'm not sure this is correct. It was speculated that Vakil's lies affected deliberations, and therefore, because they could have, the hearing was unfair, in much the same way that witnesses can refuse to incriminate themselves, even without proving that they would, only that they could, if they answered.
So that's it. Uh... I dunno. Maybe. We'll see. The "no record" claim, the "witness/spokesperson" claim, and the "old decision was final" claim are the three claims I see as most valid.
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