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Student government supreme court justice tried on allegations of corruption

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

The Student Government Association Supreme Court held a heated trial on Tuesday for Supreme Court Associate Justice Ansel Garcia, who the senate impeached during last week’s meeting on allegations of corruption and abuse of office.

Despite plaintiff Kadon Miller’s intentions, the trial consisted mostly of debate on the procedure for impeachment. Garcia and her counsel, former SGA senator Michael Abel, said that the case went beyond the statute of limitations and that the Senate failed to collect enough sponsors.

For Abel, this procedural failure nullifies the impeachment case.

“I am not touching most of the substance of these allegations,” Abel said. “I believe that this entire process has been marred by numerous procedural errors that will prevent the court from getting to the merits of this case.”

The crux of the defense’s argument for dismissal rests in a clause of the SGA bylaws that says that “no case will be heard by the Supreme Court more than 60 calendar days after the alleged act, or evidence thereof.” Miller argued that since it is an impeachment trial, it does not fall into the category of “case” as mentioned in the bylaws.

Another issue Abel pointed out was the lack of Senate sponsors for the impeachment nomination. According to bylaws, Miller needed one-third of the Senate to co-sponsor the bill for a trial to occur, which Abel claims he did not obtain. In response, Miller presented the signatures of the senators who co-sponsored the bill during last week’s meeting.

The accusation Abel and Garcia focused on in their defense was the allegation of Garcia’s intention to run for president, as seen in Miller’s presentation to the Senate. 

“Ansel is essentially being charged with running some sort of conspiracy to make herself president, but to my understanding, she was never a candidate nor declared for anything,” Abel said. “People shoot the shit with their friends sometimes.”

Throughout the trial, Miller attempted to redirect the conversation back to the other allegations he made during last week’s meeting but failed to do so until the very end during concluding arguments. 

The defense’s arguments were not exclusively limited to procedural criticisms. Garcia and Abel also called into question Miller’s intentions of bringing these allegations to light and his reasoning for wanting Chief Justice Carlos Hernandez to recuse himself from the case, alleging racial bias. 

During last week’s meeting, Miller urged Hernandez to recuse himself from the case due to his affiliation with SOMOS, a Latino student organization led by Garcia.

Miller reacted strongly to this and was swept to tears Miller defended against this accusation by referring to his past work in advocacy.

“The fact that somebody who is caught with corruption charges is trying to frame this as some sort of some sort of ethnic retaliation has left me beside myself,” Miller said. “I’ve spent semesters defending and getting work visas for people. So to even sit here and say that this is some sort of ethnic retaliation is just beyond me.”

In the middle of the trial, Miller also alleged corruption within the current SGA administration under President Diego Arriaga. He claimed that Arriaga’s “sexual relations” with the former election commissioner had damaged his integrity as president.

During her closing statement, Garcia claimed that the Senate, by impeaching her, was corrupt and had abused its powers to oppress her. She appealed to her fellow justices to dismiss the case.

“I stand before you not just as an individual seeking exoneration but as a beacon of integrity and ethical governance,” Garcia said. “You’re all the last line of defense to the atrocities committed against me by the Senate.”

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