Article IV: Student Union Judiciary

The Student Union Judiciary shall serve as the final authority on the interpretation of the Student Union Constitution and all documents and matters that arise under it, and thereby as the final avenue of dispute resolution under the Student Union Constitution. This process of interpretation, adjudication, conflict-resolution, and decision-making shall be called Judicial Review. The members of the Judiciary — collectively, jointly, and/or severally — shall also serve, as needed, in an advisory capacity to any and all students, clubs, Student Union Officials, and/or Student Union Branches seeking guidance regarding interpretation and implementation of the Constitution and/or documents and matters that arise under it. The Judiciary shall therefore be charged with remaining apprised of and familiar with Student Union developments.

Section 1: Definitions

  1. Court: The collective entity comprised of the Justices presiding over and deciding the outcome of conflicts arising under the Student Union Constitution.

  2. Case: A matter tried before and possibly resolved by the Court involving a conflict arising under the Student Union Constitution that requires adjudication and possible remedy.

  3. Governing Document: A document that outlines each or any of the rights, duties, and/or powers of entities under the jurisdiction of the Student Union Constitution, including the Student Union Constitution itself.

  4. Governing Language: Oral or written text that is either found in or that serves the role of the whole or a part of (a) Governing Document(s).

  5. Ruling: Any formal decision the Court makes during the course of a Trial.

  6. Judgment: A Court order that determines each party's rights and obligations with respect to the issues in dispute.

  7. Decision: The final Ruling of the Court in adjudicating a Case and determining any and all necessary remedial courses of action.

  8. Holding: The Court's determination regarding a matter of interpretation of Governing Language. A Holding creates binding precedent in any future Cases that call into question the same or related Governing Language as applied to similar or related fact patterns.

  9. Opinion: The Court's written explanation of its Decision in a Case, including: a summary of the facts; an explanation of the Governing Language at issue; the Holding, accompanied by analysis of the Court’s process of interpreting germane Governing Language to the facts of the Case to yield the Holding; the Judgment; and the Decision, dictating what remedy or remedies, if any, shall result of the Case.

  10. Action: A decision made by any party involved in a Case involving enforcement, execution, neglect, or interpretation of Governing Language, or ratification of new Governing Language.

  11. Trial: The entirety of the adjudication process of a Case, in which the Court hears evidence presented by the parties involved in the Case to establish facts, weighs claims by the parties regarding the meaning of germane Governing Language as applied to the presented facts of the Case, and comes to a Decision about the Case.

  12. Hearing: A single session, potentially from among multiple, comprising a Trial, in which evidence and arguments are presented to determine some issue of fact or of Governing Language.

  13. Motion: A request submitted to the Court for a desired Ruling.

  14. Petitioner: A party that initiates a Case before the Court, under the jurisdiction of the Student Union Constitution, via the filing of a Complaint, to seek the resolution of a conflict by way of remedy.

  15. Respondent: A party that falls under the jurisdiction of the Student Union Constitution, against whom a Petitioner’s Complaint is levied and who is therefore a party in a Case.

  16. Discovery: The pre-Trial process of evidence collection whereby the Petitioner(s) and Respondent(s) have the right to collect all facts and sources of fact germane to the Case, including but not limited to documents, correspondences, and witness testimony.

Section 2: Judicial Powers

  1. The jurisdiction of Judicial Review shall extend to all documents and matters that arise under the Student Union Constitution, including but not limited to the Student Union Bylaws, club constitutions, and Allocations Board Funding Scope.

  2. The Judiciary shall adjudicate conflicts that arise under the Student Union Constitution by conducting, presiding over, and delivering Decisions on Cases. Cases shall involve parties limited to the following types: Individual student(s) in the capacity of constituents or club members, club(s), Student Union official(s), Student Union branch(es), and Student Union.

  3. The Judiciary has the power to deem an Action arising under the scope of the Student Union Constitution to be unconstitutional or to be in violation of Union Bylaws, club constitutions, Allocations Board Funding Scope, or other Governing Language or Document(s) arising under the Student Union Constitution. This renders such Action invalid, thereby prohibiting it. The Judiciary is empowered to determine the remedy, if any, for such Action. The Judiciary cannot act in the capacity of another Student Union branch or officer unless that branch or officer is deemed, in and of itself, currently incapable of exercising the powers of that branch or officer properly. If the ability of the branch or officer in question to execute the powers of that branch or officer properly is not inherently compromised, the Judiciary cannot make decisions on behalf of that branch or officer, but remand the issue at hand to that branch or officer for decision-making. The Judiciary can, however, issue legal guidelines, tests, or standards, derived from the Constitution and/or Governing Language that arises from it, that must be followed and/or met in subsequent Actions taken by the party in question and by parties similar to it.

Section 3: Judiciary Composition

The Judiciary shall consist of:

  1. Four Associate Justices, elected in accordance with Article IX;

  2. The Chief Justice, who shall be elected from among the five Justices by a majority vote of the five Justices; and

  3. The Clerk of the Court, who shall be elected from outside the Student Union by a majority vote of the five Justices by the end of the second week of the academic year and confirmed by the Senate.

Section 4: Chief Justice

The Chief Justice shall preside over the Judiciary. Should the Chief Justice not be able to execute the duties of the office for a temporary period of time, the remaining Justices shall elect an Interim Chief Justice by majority vote, and this Interim Chief Justice shall execute the duties of the Chief Justice until the return of the Chief Justice or until the expiration of the Chief Justice’s term. Should the Chief Justice not be able to execute the duties of the office permanently, the remaining Justices shall elect a new Chief Justice by majority vote, and this new Chief Justice shall execute the duties of the Chief Justice until the expiration of the term of the vacated position. The Chief Justice shall:

  1. Fulfill the duties required of an Associate Justice,

  2. Be responsible for presiding over Court, and

  3. Be responsible for coordinating all proceedings and functions of the Judiciary.

Section 5: Clerk of the Court

The Clerk of Court shall:

  1. Be responsible for all pre-Trial duties of the Judiciary, including but not limited to compilation of evidence presented as fact, collection of all pre-Trial and Trial documents, and coordination of meetings and correspondences;

  2. Be responsible for maintaining all Decisions and documents, including past ones, relevant to the execution of the duties and powers of the Judiciary; and

  3. Be responsible for taking minutes of Judiciary meetings and Hearings. Should the Clerk of the Court not be able to execute the duties of the office for a temporary time, an Interim Clerk of the Court will be appointed by the Chief Justice. Should the Clerk of the Court not be able to execute the duties of the office permanently, a new Clerk of the Court will be elected by a majority vote of the five Justices.

Section 6: Judicial Review Procedure

  1. The Judicial Review process for any given Case shall begin with the official filing of a Complaint by (a) Petitioner(s). An official Complaint shall:

    • (a) Be a written petition outlining all parties involved in the Case, the Governing Language that provides grounds for the Petitioner’s claim, the facts giving rise to the Petitioner’s claim, specific charges against another/other Respondent(s), and a delineation of what Decision the Petitioner seeks from the Court;

    • (b) Be presented by the Petitioner(s) to any member of the Judiciary; and

    • (c) Be recorded by the Clerk of the Court.

  2. Only grievances presented to the Judiciary explicitly as official Complaints shall initiate Cases. The Judiciary shall be compelled to conduct a Trial for a Case if a minimum of one Justice approves the Complaint to become a formal Case. Informal grievances can be brought to the Judiciary for informal evaluation and advice, but the Judiciary shall, by majority vote, reserve the right not to provide such evaluation and advice.

  3. A date for a Case to be brought to Trial shall be set and announced to all involved parties within five academic days of its presentation to a Judiciary member. This date shall be set for a time that is:

    • (a) sufficiently comfortable for the Petitioner(s) and Respondent(s),

    • (b) sufficiently far in the future to allow for a proper Discovery process, and

    • (c) sufficiently soon enough after the filing of the Complaint to constitute speedy and diligent delivery of justice.

  4. The Judiciary shall inform each implicated party in the Case of its right to the aid of an Advocate. If a party elects to exercise this right, a capable Advocate shall be chosen for them from among Student Union Officials not involved in the Case in any capacity. This Advocate shall be responsible for helping the party with all pre-Trial and Trial tasks and duties, including but not limited to Discovery, compilation, analysis, and submission of evidence collected, submission of Motions, and representation of the party during Trial.

  5. A Justice shall have the right to recusal from participating in the adjudication of any Case in which a reasonable conflict of interest exists that could potentially prevent the Justice from judging impartially. A Justice shall be compelled to recusal by a majority vote of the other Justices if circumstances demand it.

  6. A quorum of four Justices is necessary for an official hearing of the Judiciary as a Court unless one or more of the Justices has/have been recused from hearing the Case. In such a situation, a quorum shall be defined as four minus the number of recused Justices.

  7. The Judiciary shall be compelled to hold as fair, impartial, and speedy a Trial as possible. The Court shall evaluate the facts of the Case, the arguments presented by the parties involved in the Trial, the precedent of the Court, germane Governing Language in question, and any other germane information, and at the conclusion of the Trial deliver the Court’s Opinion regarding the Case. The Judiciary shall decide all Cases by a majority vote of the Justices present and voting. If a majority cannot be reached, the Justices may decide to reargue the Case or dismiss it by a majority vote.

  8. Court Hearings shall be open to the public. However, the Court may, upon request or if it deems it necessary, close all or part of its Hearings to only persons specified by the Judiciary in order to protect the rights of involved individuals. The Court may close Hearings to only certain people by a majority vote of the Court, either by granting a Motion for Closed Hearing submitted by a party involved in the Case, or by determining independently that doing so is prudent and in the best interests of the rights of individuals or the welfare of the Undergraduate Student Body.

  9. Cases and their Trial proceedings must be thoroughly recorded and published such that they are publicly and easily accessible. The Judiciary can vote, in circumstances surrounding sensitive matters, to keep private and withhold from publication part or all of the information of the Case; a vote not to publish certain materials in a Case shall require a two-thirds vote of the Justices. The Judiciary may withhold part of or the totality of a Case either by granting part or the whole of a Motion to Withhold submitted by a party involved in the Case, or by determining independently that doing so is prudent and in the best interests of the rights of individuals or the welfare of the Undergraduate Student Body.

  10. The Judiciary shall provide a thorough written explanation of the reasoning behind every Ruling it makes to all involved parties, including the public, with exception to withheld parts that the Judiciary has deemed confidential.

 

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