SGA attorney general blasts election hearing, calls for impeachment of chief justice
Student Government Association Attorney General Tiffanie Gordon filed a complaint against SGA Chief Justice Eddie Munoz on Monday, alleging a pattern of judicial misconduct that culminated in the election hearing held March 6.
In the nearly 26-page document, Gordon claims Munoz allowed a litany of procedural errors and outright bias to influence the court’s decision to overturn the election. These violations, according to the complaint, are grounds for impeachment.
“The attorney general believes the hearing held March 6, 2023 is a mistrial,” the complaint reads. “Chief Justice Munoz should be impeached immediately.”
Aside from claiming the court allowed its biases to influence the decision, Gordon also said it erred by allowing a UT law student to represent For the Students’ case. Furthermore, the complaint states that the case should have first been brought before Gordon in her capacity as attorney general and then appealed to the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court hearing the appeal without a proper investigation from the justice department is a gross mishandling of the bylaws and the election code,” the complaint reads.
One of two dissenting justices, Tyler Garrett, echoed Gordons concern regarding court procedure. While Garrett did not place blame on any one particular justice, he also believes the decision was made in error.
“I think that calling for re-election was a mistake, and I do not agree with the way we’re moving forward,” Garrett said. “I don’t think anybody was leaning towards a specific person, but I think there was an error on what we were supposed to do as a court. Our role as the SGA supreme court is to uphold the student code of conduct and the SGA bylaws.”
A major sticking point for Gordon and Garrett was the court’s failure to engage with the defense presented by SGA Chief Election Commissioner Tochi Okoli. During the hearing, Okoli said the issues with Get Involved stemmed from students registering with personal emails and had nothing to do with students’ classification.
“As stated in their case briefing, the election commission employed several methods for students who were incorrectly registered on Get Involved,” Gordon said. “The tone of the verdict, which is obviously based on fallacy, neglects to consider the election commission actually made it easier for students to vote.”
While Gordon’s concerns were directed primarily at Munoz, some have also expressed doubt about other members of the Supreme Court. Justice Laura Rincon, who formerly served as vice president for #RiseUp, released a statement explaining why she did not recuse herself.
“I take my responsibility as an Associate Justice very seriously, and for students to insinuate that I would allow prior affiliations to cloud my judgment in this ruling is insulting,” Rincon said. “I base my vote on the fact, and the fact is that the election commission was negligent in this year’s election.”
#RiseUp, the spiritual predecessor to For the Students, ran for office in 2021 but became the first party to be entirely disqualified from an SGA race for election code violations. Upon taking office, President Joshua Martin appointed several former members of #RiseUp to key cabinet positions, such as Chief of Staff Elliot Carter and Director of Outreach Brandon Hayes.
Gordon, however, disagreed with Rincon’s assertion that the justices based their decisions on the “facts” of the case.
“The verdict they released on this topic is absolutely egregious,” Gordon’s complaint reads. “I implore the justices to be more diligent when making such decisions as this verdict was reckless, baseless and a lie.”
Looking forward, Gordon said the likelihood of impeaching a justice so close to the end of their term is unlikely, but she feels there is a chance the election hearing could be declared a mistrial. As of now, however, UH voters remain in limbo.
“This election has been hectic because Josh attempted to side-step me and the election commissioner at every step of the process,” Gordon said. “I implore the next administration to ensure this does not happen again.”