The Central Student Judiciary ruled Saturday to uphold the University Election Commission’s decision to disqualify LSA juniors Chris Osborn and Hayley Sakwa from the Central Student Government executive elections. As a result of the hearing, Business junior Michael Proppe and LSA sophomore Bobby Dishell, who finished in second place in the CSG elections by approximately 500 votes, will become the next president and vice president — respectively — of CSG.
CSJ ruled against forUM, stating that the UEC correctly interpreted and applied the facts brought forth by youMICH.
The appeal by Osborn’s party, forUM, challenged several aspects of the UEC’s decision and claimed that the ruling should be completely overturned by CSJ. Specifically, forUM contended that Osborn did not receive proper representation during the UEC hearing. Osborn allegedly contacted CSJ to gain proper legal representation six hours prior to the UEC hearing, but CSJ was not able to find him representation in time.
forUM claimed that Osborn was forced to proceed with the hearing as scheduled with unprepared representation. The party believes this resulted in several mistakes that greatly affected the outcome of the suit.
The UEC, however, claimed that Osborn did not attempt to secure proper representation enough in advance, noting that any errors made on his behalf were trivial and would not have affected the outcome.
Though many of the justices agreed that Osborn did not have proper representation during the original UEC hearing, CSJ ruled in favor for the UEC by a four-to-three vote.
The second major claim brought against the UEC addressed the allegations that Osborn “actively influenced” students while they were voting.
The two sides fought over the definition of “active influence,” specifically in regard to evidence used in the original hearing: photographs of Osborn talking to students while they were at their computers.
forUM argued that the still photographs showed only Osborn’s presence while students were voting — which is allowed, according to the election code — in contrast to Osborn actually influencing them.
Although many of the justices agreed that “active influence” was not well defined in the election code, they unanimously agreed with the UEC that Osborn had committed the offense.
forUM had also contended that during the UEC hearing the evidence and facts brought about by youMICH were applied erroneously.
On Sunday afternoon, the CSJ continued its hearing – this time addressing an appeal of UEC’s dismissal of allegation convicting forUM of an inappropriate e-mail usage.
youMICH originally filed an election complaint alleging that an e-mail sent by Kinesiology sophomore Cindy Yu to an unknown listserv violated the compiled code through “inappropriate and irresponsible use of e-mail privileges.” The case was dismissed by the UEC, citing a lack of sufficient evidence proving Yu’s allegiance to youMICH.
Although Yu was unavailable to testify during the original UEC hearing of the case, her testimony in front of the CSJ confirmed her non-alliance to forUM’s campaign. While she admitted to sending the e-mail, Yu affirmed that she had not been asked to send it.
Had the CSJ overturned the ruling of the UEC, the entire forUM party and candidates would have been disqualified from taking their place in the assembly, forUM Communication Director Alexander Lane explained.
While a party is allowed 10 demerits before disqualification, the UEC ruled in favor of allegations that forUM violated campaign finance rules—awarding the party eight demerits. As the ruling did not change the outcome of elections, forUM decided against appealing the case to the higher judiciary.
“It was a nasty vile attempt by youMICH to kick our entire party out of the election,” Lane said, echoing his earlier sentiments.
youMICH chair Laurel Ruza said in an e-mail that despite youMICH’s excitement to work in the new assembly, she believed that the election code contained interpretational ambiguities.
“For many years now, there has been ambiguity and confusion over the sections of the election code regarding email violations,” the statement read. “Our goal today was to press CSJ to hand down an clear interpretation of the laws, and it is unfortunate they left such ambiguity in place.”
CSJ Chief Justice Chris Stevens explained in an e-mail the caution that the CSJ sought to exercise while “overturning the ruling of a lower judiciary.”
“While some Justices may have had reservations about the lower Court’s opinion and whether or not the e-mail in question was sent in coordination with the ForUM party, the petitioners (YouMICH) did not meet the burden of proof that the UEC clearly erred in its judgement,” Stevens said.
CSJ’s ruling is not official until the justices issue a written opinion, which is expected to be complete by April 13.