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Senior associate justice resigns from Supreme Court to prevent probable impeachment

“I respect the decision of the Court to exonerate me, however, I am shocked by the comments made by certain Supreme Court justices regarding my character and integrity,” Garcia said. | Raphael Fernandez/The Cougar

In a unanimous decision, the Student Government Association Supreme Court has accepted senior associate justice Ansel Garcia’s resignation from the court bench after her impeachment trial.

The decision referenced the first special session of the 61st administration when Garcia announced her resignation after hearing corruption allegations from public policy sophomore Kadon Miller. According to the Court, the impeachment trial held last week has been rendered null and void due to Garcia’s resignation, and Garcia’s impeachment nomination was invalid.

“The Senate does not have the power to impeach a student that is not an official or not holding office within the UH Student Government Association,” the decision said. “Her resignation, which was accepted by the UH Student Government Association, means that Ms. Garcia was no longer holding office at the time of the first phase of the impeachment process.”

The decision came after an impeachment trial against Garcia, which raised corruption allegations in court. The decision itself had little to do with the arguments that Garcia and Miller exchanged during last week’s impeachment trial. However, in his written opinion, Justice Christian Medrano wrote that he agrees with all claims of violation against Garcia.

“I lastly want to express my utmost disgust with the actions of Garcia,” Medrano said in his opinion. “If Ms. Garcia had not resigned immediately, and if there were no procedural errors in the upbringing of these charges, I would not hesitate to impeach her and pass the charges on to the Senate.”

Medrano was not alone in condemning Garcia, as Justice Chinwe Nwaeze stated her own opinion about the abuse of power allegations. 

“The evidence presented overwhelmingly demonstrates that the defendant engaged in conduct that constitutes malfeasance,” Nwaeze said in her written opinion. Malfeasance, or the improper or unlawful conduct by an official according to the SGA bylaws, was one of the allegations Miller had levied against Garcia during the trial.

Despite the little overlap between the trial arguments and the decision’s rationale, Medrano and other justices corrected some of the prominent arguments made by both parties.

Both Medrano and Nwaeze rejected Miller’s distinction between an impeachment trial and a case. This distinction was Miller’s response to Garcia’s claim that the statute of limitations clause within the SGA bylaws prevents an impeachment trial.

“I don’t agree with the decision,” Miller said after the Court released its opinion. “Stating that the statute of limitations applies to impeachment trains is practically an expansion of judicial power and breaks the constitution for the court to just throw out cases.”

Medrano also took issue with Garcia’s argument that the allegations against her were meritless due to her ineligibility to run for office, which he called “paradoxical” in his written opinion as she expressed her intention to run for president while holding the office of Supreme Court justice. 

“Despite making the contention that she was not eligible for candidacy because of her position on the Court, she was still willing to violate the separation of powers and abandon that duty to make a run in one of the other two branches,” Medrano said.

Garcia will no longer hold her position as justice at the SGA Supreme Court, and since Chief Justice Carlos Hernandez is resigning, there will be two vacancies in the court at the end of the semester.

“I respect the decision of the Court to exonerate me, however, I am shocked by the comments made by certain Supreme Court justices regarding my character and integrity,” Garcia said.

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