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SGA attorney general suspended after botched election code hearing

The Student Government Association Supreme Court Justices (left to right) Associate Justice Elliot Madsen, Senior Associate Justice Ansel Garcia, Chief Justice Carlos Hernandez, Associate Justices Christian Medrano, Derrick Cooper and Jaden Kirven. | Courtesy of Carlos Hernandez.

In a landmark decision, the Student Government Association oversaw a procedural dispute, which resulted in the suspension of Attorney General Matthew Tao. The verdict, delivered by the Supreme Court, derives from a case brought forth by president-elect Diego Arriaga, representing the For All Cougars party.

The controversy ignited on March 7, when Tao issued a ruling against For All Cougars alleging a violation of the Election Code. Arriaga swiftly appealed the decision, contesting procedural inconsistency and asserting that the penalty should be overturned.

Arriaga’s appeal centered on two key assertions: First, that Tao had violated Article 7, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Election Code, which mandates a strict time frame for the adjudication of complaints; and second, that the timing of Tao’s ruling fell outside the permitted window for such decisions — rendering it null and void.

Despite acknowledging the trial, Tao opted not to participate, prompting the Supreme Court to proceed without his involvement.

The Court, led by Chief Justice Carlos Hernandez, found merit in Arriaga’s claims of procedural misconduct, leading to the dismissal of the penalty imposed by Tao. They unanimously ruled in favor of Arriaga and For All Cougars, dismissing the penalty and suspending Tao from his position for 30 calendar days.

The suspension was based on Tao’s failure to adhere to procedural duties outlined in the Bylaws and his deliberate refusal to participate in the trial proceedings. Hernandez emphasized that Tao’s actions contravened SGA’s governing documents, warranting disciplinary action.

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