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Event Advisory Notice – Senate Hearings

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Event Advisory Notice

Who: FIU Student Government Council – Modesto A. Maidique Campus

What: SGA Grievance Hearings

When: 11th February 2011, 3:30pm – 7:30pm

Where: RDB 1000 & RDB 2001

Why: The Court will be holding hearings for several grievances received from the Senate
on Friday February 11th, 2011 at 3:30pm. The hearings will be in 30 minute blocks
starting at 3:30pm.

Details: Your attendance is highly encouraged.

Additional Information
For additional Information, visit our websites at fiu.edu/~sga, fiusga.wordpress.com and facebook.com/fiusga. You may also contact Andrew Vaz, SGC-MMC Press secretary at sga.press@fiu.edu or by calling our office in Graham Center, Room 211, at +1.305.348.2121.

About Florida International University
Florida International University is Miami’s 1st and only public research institution of higher learning. Serving nearly 40,000 students, FIU is amongst the 25th largest Universities in the nation, boasting 12 Colleges and Schools that offer in excess of 200 Bachelors, Masters, Doctoral and Professional degrees. With over 100,000 Alumni living and working in South Florida, the impact that FIU has had on the local community is incalculable.

About the Student Government Association at FIU
The Student Government Association at FIU affords students the opportunity to cultivate their leadership skills by serving as liaisons of the student body to the University Administration, hence gaining valuable experience in governance and stewardship. With over 40 senators, 60 cabinet members, 20 committees and 40 interns, SGA provides a challenging yet sustainable environment in which students can contribute to student life and in turn, the university community.

Associate Justice Position Available

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

We are currently accepting applications for the position of justice. If you are interested in the position please fill out the following application, and along with a resume submit it to omell001@fiu.edu by January 13, 2011.

The SGC-MMC Supreme Court, as part of the Judiciary Branch, is tasked with ensuring the rule of law is being met throughout SGA. When cases are presented to the Judiciary, the five justices that make up the Supreme Court are given the responsibility of upholding the National, State, and FIU Constitution, as well as our Statutes. It is the job of the Supreme Court Justices to remain unbiased and ensure all individuals coming before Court are treated fairly and impartially.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Octavio Mella at that email as well. Good luck!

Ex Parte O’Keefe: Decision

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Ex Parte O’Keefe

SC 004 (Fall 2010)

Patrick O’Keefe

Petitioner

Altanese Phenelus, Executive Branch

Amicus Curiae Brief


[October 15, 2010]

MR. ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE MELLA delivered the opinion of the Court.

In our ever-changing technologically driven society, laws many times fail to keep up with a multitude of modern day advances. The courts are commonly tasked with interpreting how to approach these issues. Today this Court faces a similar situation. As the option of taking online courses becomes more popular among the student body, the question is raised if these courses satisfy the FIU constitutional requirement of campus affiliation for SGA officials.

Article V Section 5 Subsection A (1); grants the FIU Supreme Court the power to “interpret any provision of constitutions, and statutes within the sovereignty of SGA.” Mr. O’Keefe asks the Court to use this power to interpret Article VII Section 2 Subsection E, which states each SGA official shall “Be registered, during Fall and Spring semesters, for no less than fifty (50) percent of his/her classes at the campus he/she represents.” Mr. O’Keefe questions how the Constitution should be applied when it comes to the qualifications of SGA officials based on their online courses.

The question in this case stems down to FIU’s dual student government council system. This system inspired a clause in the FIU Constitution that requires no less than fifty percent of an SGA Officials classes to be taken at the campus they represent. The question the Court must answer is whether online classes can be affiliated with a particular campus.

The Court encountered a number of explanations on how to determine which campus an online course corresponds to. They included by the particular college, major, or even the course itself. We found each of these systems of categorizing online courses can present a number of problems. For example the College of Arts and Sciences has courses in both campuses. This same problem occurs with certain majors as well as the particular courses themselves.

We therefore find that there is currently no system in place to systematically distinguish online courses by their campus affiliation. This leads us to conclude that individuals registered for more than fifty percent of their courses online, do not meet Article VII Section 2 Subsection E of the FIU Constitution. We ultimately believe this ruling guarantees that SGC officials will have a certain degree of proximity to the students who they represent in their particular campus.

Categories: Decisions, Supreme Court Tags:

Student Body v Senate: Decision

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Student Body v Senate

SC 003 (Fall 2010)

Altanese Phenelus, Attorney General

Petitioner

William-Jose Velez Gonzalez, Speaker

Hector D Mujica, Speaker Pro-Tempore

Daniel Gonzalez, Internal Affairs Committee Chair

Respondent

[October 1, 2010]

MR. ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE MELLA delivered the opinion of the Court.

On August 30, 2010, the Florida International University Modesto A Maidique Campus Senate voted to have individual hearings on four members of the Executive Branch. These members included SGC-MMC Director of External Relations Andrea Alhadari, SGC-MMC Comptroller Maria-Rosa Blanco, SGC-MMC Chief Information Officer Julio Yanes, and SGC-MMC Director of Campus Life Alex Lastra. The Senate derived their power to hold these hearings from the SGC-MMC Statutes Article III, Section 3.07 (a & b). The question before us is whether the Senate has the power to hold hearings on non-cabinet members of the Executive Branch. Pending the outcome of this case, an injunction was placed on the hearing of Comptroller Maria-Rosa Blanco, which was to be held on September 27, 2010.

The petitioner charges the SGC-MMC Senate “with misfeasance for the misuse of their legal authority to question only particular members of the Executive,” arguing that SGC-MMC Statutes Article III, Section 3.07 (a) specifically say “The Senate has the right to hold hearing on individual members of the Cabinet and the Governing Councils.” Additionally, the SGA Constitution Article IV Section 2 states, “ The Executive Branch shall be composed of a President, Vice President, Comptroller, Executive Cabinet, and Elections Board.” The petitioner claims this makes a distinction between Cabinet and the Comptroller, therefore not giving the Senate the power to hold a hearing on the Comptroller.

The respondent questions the legality of the grievance, claiming it is in violation of Article VI of the SGA Constitution, granting the accused due process. Furthermore, the respondent claims that SGC-MMC Statutes Article III Section 3.07 (b) allows for the Senate “to hold a hearing on a particular individual or groups of individuals that are part of the Executive Branch.” Although subsection (a) of the above statute specifically says “cabinet or governing council” the respondent argues this “would constitute selectively choosing which part of the Statutes to follow, to make a decision.”

The Court finds the arguments raised by the respondent unpersuasive. In claiming the Court failed to provide the respondent due process, we disagree. The respondent was fully informed of the charges and hearing process. SGC-MMC Statutes Article XIII Section 13.01, provides the steps needed to ensure the due process of a “charged student.” As a body of government the statutes do not afford the Senate the same rights. Additionally, we again disagree with the respondent’s argument that the petitioner is selectively choosing which statutes to follow. The statute that is most specific takes supremacy, as the vagueness of the language may vary throughout certain articles in the SGC-MMC Statutes. Finally, a grievance being filed against the Senate would not by any means be “removing a branch of government.” The Court reserves the right to censure any act of the Senate it deems unconstitutional or in violation of the SGC-MMC Statutes.

That being said, our main concern in this case is the selection of the Comptroller, which is currently appointed by the President and Vice-president. We question what in fact constitutes an Executive Cabinet position. The SGA Constitution Article IV Section 2 Subsection D, indicates “The Executive Cabinet shall: 1. Assist the executive leadership” and “2. Be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.” Currently the Comptroller, a non-cabinet position, is in accordance with both these duties. Furthermore, in a cabinet application submitted into evidence by the respondent, we find the Comptroller is listed as one of the cabinet positions. In that application under the description of said position it states “The Comptroller answers to the Student Body President.” As it is now, we find substance in the petitioner’s argument that the Comptroller is not a cabinet position. This leads us to question why it is being treated as one.

We therefore unanimously conclude that although the Comptroller is not an Executive Cabinet position, it is being treated as such. Since the Student Body is not electing the Comptroller, the Senate, as representatives of the Student Body and having confirmed the individual, should have the ability to bring before them the Comptroller for questioning. Exempting the Comptroller from Senate questioning would ultimately create the only position in the Executive Branch that would not be accountable to the Student Body through direct election or indirectly by Senate oversight. At the present time we find no distinction between the Comptroller and a Cabinet position. Therefore we rule in favor of the respondent.

September Judicial Report

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Desk of Veronica Guerra

SGC-MMC Supreme Court Chief Justice

The Court has been busy at work serving the student body. Detailed below is a record of the Court’s activity since the publication of the last Newsletter.

The Senate has confirmed Michael Foley, Erica Estevez and Jessica Medina to serve as Associate Justices on the Supreme Court. The newly confirmed Associate Justices complete the Supreme Court, each of which will serve a two-year term.

In the past month, the Court has received three Writs of Certiorari. The first, which the Court declared moot because no case or controversy exists, was filed by a concerned member of the student body seeking clarification of the term “deliberations” in Article V, Section 3 (d) of the SGA Constitution, questioned the lack of legislation governing the overall administration of the SGC-MMC Supreme Court, and addressed the issues of a lack of transparency and accountability of the SGC-MMC Supreme Court to the student body.

The second Writ was filed by SGC-MMC Attorney General Altanese Phenelus, in an effort to clarify whether or not the Senate has the power and authority to question SGC-MMC Comptroller Maria Rosa Blanco, as the Constitution and the Statutes are inconsistent relative to the Comptroller’s role in student government.

The third and final Writ, filed by a concerned member of the student body, requesting that the Court review portions of the elections code to ensure that the Student Elections Board is not exercising powers reserved for the Legislative Branch of Student Government, as detailed in Article III, Section 5 (A) of the SGA Constitution.

The October Newsletter will feature the Court’s decisions on these Writs, as well as any other developments. Stay connected at fiu.edu/~sga!

August 2010 Newsletter-Judicial

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Desk of Veronica Guerra

SGC-MMC Supreme Court Justice

During the summer 2010 term, the SGC-MMC Supreme Court has stalwartly and passionately worked towards the objective of ensuring that the Court can and will perform its duties during the 2010-11 academic school year. Below is a summary of how the Court has worked towards the objective of ensuring the SGC-MMC will be equipped to serve the student body.

During the first Senate on the 23rd of August, four Associate Justices that I have appointed will be confirmed. Senate will be held in GC 150, from 4pm-6pm. The student body is always welcome and encouraged to attend!

On the 30th of June, 296 students went to the polls and voiced their opinions about the Green Energy Fee and the Constitutional Amendments.

Green Energy Fee Referendum

Vote Green Energy Fee
Yes 222
No 46
Abstain 10

Now that students have voiced their opinion about the fee, the Board of Trustees (BOT) of FIU must now approve it. If the BOT approves the fee, then the Board of Governors of the State University System (BOT) must approve it. If the BOG approves the fee, students at FIU will go back to the polls and vote on whether the fee should be as little as $0.25, $1, or somewhere in-between. The fee will become part of a fund that will be appropriated by a committee—the University President and the SGA Presidents each appointing ½ of the committee’s members—to reduce energy costs at FIU.

Constitutional Amendments

Vote Constitutional Amendments
Yes 201
No 46
Abstain 49

Below are bullet point summary of the amendments that have been made to the Constitution, as a result of the special election on the 30th of June:

  • Students rights are properly outlined
  • Senate may audit student organizations funded directly by SGA via A&S Fees
  • Senate may expand the number of justices and the jurisdiction of the Court
  • The Elections Commission is now part of and subject to the regulations of Senate
  • Justices’ terms have been extended to two years
  • The University Wide Council can create committees to deal with campus-wide issues, so long as the committees are composed of an equal amount of BBC and MMC Senators
  • Because the student body has no authority to create or dissolve Governing Councils, the list of Governing Councils have been removed from the Constitution
  • A provision has been created so that the student body can amend the Constitution

Should you have any questions, comments, and/or concerns, or suggestions as it pertains to how the Court can better serve the interests of you, the student, do not hesitate to contact me at vguer011@fiu.edu.

Supreme Court Positions Available

June 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Attention students,

The Student Government Council – Modesto A. Maidique Campus has applications available for the Chief Justice and Justices positions of the Supreme Court of the SGC-MMC. The SGC-MMC Supreme Court is composed of the Chief Justice and four Justices. As defenders of the Constitution the Court interprets all bodies of law in SGA including the Constitution, Statutes, Finance and Elections Codes, and is charged with negating all existing Student Government Statutes, Appropriations, Laws, Joint Resolutions, Executive Orders, and/or Senatorial policies that conflict with any federal, state, local laws and/or ordinances and/or University regulations.

The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to preside over: the constitutionality of actions by student governing groups; conflicts between student groups; and violations of the Constitution and Statutes.  The Supreme Court hears grievances filed against SGC-MMC officials for censure and removal. Upon validation, trial, and deliberation of grievances the court may sanction or remove SGA members.

Interested individuals should fill out the attached application and drop it off in the SGA Offices in GC 211 by 5:00pm June 18, 2010. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at sga@fiu.edu, call to 305-348-2121, visit us in GC 211 or come to one of our meetings.

Applications

Chief Justice Application

Justice Application