ASUC Judicial Council meeting ends with 2 plea deals, certification of referendum results

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Sydney Chang /File

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Student Action accepted a plea deal from the Elections Council at the ASUC Judicial Council meeting Tuesday after a month of hearings, deliberations and appeals.

The party pleaded guilty to a Class C charge for financial misfilings and received one censure for the actions, bringing their total for this election term to three. This plea deal voids the original ruling — which found Student Action guilty of a Class B, or more severe, violation and charged them with three censures — according to Judicial Council chair Jonathan Fuentes. The results from three referendums — the Student Basic Needs referendum, the Arts, Music and Programming Initiative and the Transfer Remedy Act — were also certified at the meeting.

“I am glad that they fixed their mistake and that, not to sound corny, but that justice was finally achieved,” Student Action party co-chair Josh Wilson said. “It’s a shame that this was so long and drawn-out and so traumatic for so many people, but in the end, I’m glad we have the right result.”

According to Elections Prosecutor Kyle Ashworth, the party found documentation for the full amount of their finances since the original hearing. He said he considered “misrepresenting” to be an “action verb” signifying intent and said that he did not consider Student Action to have committed misrepresentation of funds, which is why he offered the plea deal.

Student Action’s three executive candidates and 11 Senate candidates are no longer disqualified after this process, although final elections results for ASUC Senate and executive positions have yet to be certified. The certification will take place over a public teleconference after Friday, according to Fuentes.

“To me, it is a little bit disheartening that a minor misfiling, which is essentially prevalent in all parties was essentially weaponized,” Lee Place, who helped lead the appeal process for Student Action and served as Amma Sarkodee-Adoo’s campaign manager, said. “I’m excited that we actually have seats — we campaigned about a lot of issues — and I’m excited to actually get to work on those issues.”

A separate case against CalSERVE was also discussed at the meeting. According to Ashworth, CalSERVE party chair zaynab abdulqadir-morris approached former elections auditor Roop Randhawa — who resigned in April — for a preemptive plea deal for late misfilings. Ashworth said that, when he took the position and pursued the charges, he was unaware of abdulqadir-morris’s assumption that it would be a preemptive charge, in which guilt would not have to be admitted, and said that the misunderstanding led to confusion.

The Judicial Council accepted the petition for a plea deal with CalSERVE but is awaiting an official agreement between CalSERVE and the Elections Council, which Ashworth said would happen Wednesday. According to Ashworth, the agreement must be made before the Elections Council and the Judicial Council can officially finalize all of the results.

“I think we are all aware that there were circumstances this semester that pushed all of the Elections Council duties back,” Ashworth said. “I just want to thank all the dozens of people who worked during this busy time to make sure this process, which had challenges and precedent and time, was fair.”

Contact Katherine Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article misspelled zaynab abdulqadir-morris’s name.