Saturday, November 16

Attempt to impeach justice illuminates alterior motives


Attempt to impeach justice illuminates alterior motives

Students First! leadership retalliates against nemesis

By Rob Greenhalgh

The Undergraduate Students Association Council’s botched attempt
to impeach Judicial Board Justice Noah Hochman Tuesday, Feb. 6,
further emphasized the ineptitude of this year’s student
government, led by the Students First! slate.

Instead of accepting Hochman’s resignation and ending the
seven-month "investigation" with the result they clearly planned
on, their egos led to another public embarrassment and further
delegitimized an already faltering administration.

The facts surrounding this case clearly indicate that the
attempted impeachment was by no means a fair hearing to search for
the truth, but a kangaroo court in which several of the council
jurors displayed severe bias and blatant political maneuvers.

In the end, their preposterous plans exploded and proved beyond
a shadow of a doubt that this year’s administration has absolutely
no clue about how to conduct itself.

Let me shed some light on the facts surrounding the case. The
undergraduate council wanted to remove Hochman from his position on
the board for a supposed violation of Judicial Board bylaws.

The council’s report indicated that while Hochman served as
chief justice, he leaked confidential information to me – then
student government president – which compromised the integrity of
both himself and the judicial process. This accusation relied on
the testimony of Nikki Vivion, who served on the Elections Board
last year, and who witnessed the conversation and believed that
there was a possible conflict of interest.

She never said anywhere in her testimony that confidential
matters were discussed. Rather, council members extrapolated this
from her comments to serve their own purposes. She also never
explained why she believed that the conversation was a conflict of
interest, only that she thought it could have been one.

During the hearing, Hochman asked for a continuance because he
had not received a copy of the council witness’ testimony until the
day before. He did not have adequate time to review the
documentation.

Also, the undergraduate council’s sole witness did not come to
the hearing. Their case rested on the transcribed testimony of
Vivion, who could not be asked questions to clear up a very vague
testimony.

For those two reasons, Hochman asked for a one-week continuance
which was denied. Realizing that their minds were made up long
before the hearing took place, Hochman submitted his resignation to
avoid the spectacle which was sure to ensue.

Our esteemed president, York Chang, refused to accept Hochman’s
resignation, arguing that he did not want to provide Hochman an
"easy way out" of the situation.

The truth is that Cynthia Duarte, chair and only member of the
one-person "investigation" committee, threw an infantile tantrum
when she heard Hochman submitted his resignation, and demanded that
the hearing continue.

Who has ever heard of someone being denied his own resignation
in order to be put on trial, when the only evidence presented is
the testimony of someone not present? Only Chang and his eight
sidekicks would have the audacity to do such a thing.

As the hearing progressed, it became quite clear that Hochman’s
integrity was not on trial, student government’s was . The council
never intended to find the truth behind the allegations. Instead,
they were desperately looking to remove the one justice viewed as
an enemy and potential obstacle to External Vice President John
Du’s ascension to the presidency.

Chang and his gang view Hochman as their nemesis because of a
decision to overturn election results favorable to Chang during
last year’s election. They promised retribution for his decision,
and his impeachment was the avenue pursued.

In essence, Chang wanted to remove the one check in place to
protect against blatant violations of student government policies
which he and his slate have committed (i.e., spending thousands of
dollars of your money on his own political agenda).

The truth is that Hochman never broke the confidentiality of the
case in question. Vivion’s testimony never cited that he did in the
first place; and if Chang, Du and Cathy Silverio hold themselves to
their own standards, then they should be impeached.

First Chang. The Daily Bruin showed clearly last quarter that he
violated his own bylaws by not having several of his key appointees
approved by the Appointments Review Committee, the body which
reviews all presidential appointees and provides a check on the one
person (Chang) who controls the only voice you and I have on this
campus.

Chang claims that he forgot he appointed the review committee,
even though he had only appointed it three months before. He also
claimed that the committee was simply more bureaucracy he did not
want to deal with. What makes Chang think he is above the policies
to which he holds everyone else, including Hochman?

The next example of serious integrity deficiency is John Du.
Soon after Hochman rendered his decision during last year’s
election (which he later reversed when new evidence was presented),
Du wrote a viewpoint criticizing the decision-making ability of the
entire Judicial Board. Directly confronted with this during the
hearing, and asked to abstain on the final vote due to his
obviously biased opinion of Hochman, Du refused.

Finally, Cathy Silverio, another Students First! product, who
previously held a position as a Judicial Board justice. While
holding this supposedly unbiased position, she actively
participated in the endorsement process for several organizations
that supported Students First!, and openly criticized several
campaigns, including my own.

This year’s student council is definitely putting students
first. The question is: which students first? Clearly not you or
me. Rather, a small, select group who believes that student
government was established to serve their limited interests and
that the rest of the student body owes them something.

They question the integrity of Judicial Board members without
reflecting on their own conduct. They wouldn’t even let an
independent, impartial, outside body investigate the allegations,
for fear the truth would be discovered – that Hochman never
violated any of the policies he had sworn to protect.

No, the council members thought the fair avenue to follow was
one in which they served as investigator, judge and jury. They
conducted themselves in a childish fashion and ended up, again,
misinterpreting their guiding documents and botching up their
attempted impeachment.

Greenhalgh is a fifth-year political science student. He was the
1994-95 undergraduate president.Comments to
[email protected]

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