I recieved an email from newly appointed Chief Justice Rachel Kagan early this morning. Basically, it says that the UJ will hear Brooks’ case before the end of the semester, probably tomorrow. It also names Kaamilla and Noam as defendants in addition to Nelson Rutrick in his capacity as elections commissioner.
Both Brooks’ original compaint and the UJ response are below.
Order granting certiorari
To: Andrew Brooks, Petitioner
Nelson Rutrick, Respondent
Cc: Student Union Government
Re: Order Granting Certiorari
Having received a case for review from petitioner Andrew Brooks against the Chief of Elections Nelson Rutrick, the Union Judiciary has decided to grant certiorari, and thus has agreed to hear the case.
The case names only Nelson Rutrick as Respondent, however, considering the particular nature of the complaint–that Mr. Rutrick failed to respond appropriately to allegations of libel and slander–we have decided to offer Noam Shouster and Kaamila Mohamed the opportunity to join the case as Respondents. Both Ms. Shouster and Ms. Mohamed are mentioned by name in the complaint, which alleges that supporters of both write-in campaigns violated the elections rule prohibiting libel or slander against another candidate. Therefore we have decided to offer Ms. Shouster and Ms. Mohamed the opportunity to respond to such allegations. We believe that this step will enable us to reach a more complete understanding of the separate issues presented by this case. While Mr. Rutrick may present evidence to disprove Mr. Brooks’ allegation that he acted unfairly or with bias, Ms. Shouster and Ms. Mohamed will now have the chance to present evidence that the statements in question were not election rule violations (either because they were not libelous, or because the individuals who spoke them were not acting with the candidate’s implicit or explicit consent).
In the interests of greater transparency in the Union Judiciary, and hopefully by the Student Union as a whole, we have decided to release both this, our order, as well as the original complaint which is attached, to the media and student body. We hope that this will aid in decreasing the perception of the Union Judiciary as secretive or aloof.
While the Constitution requires that a case must be heard within five academic days, only one academic day remains in this semester. In order to prevent the carrying of this case over to next semester, which we feel is against all parties’ best interests, the Court would like to hear the case as soon as possible. Until such time as a Clerk of the Court is appointed, please contact the Chief Justice about the scheduling of a trial date and time. The Union Judiciary strongly recommends holding this hearing on Thursday, the study day. If this date is unworkable, please provide your availability for Friday – Sunday of this week.
If either Petitioner or Respondent(s) need assistance in locating appropriate counsel to assist them, the Court will attempt to help, though we can offer no guarantees.
We would remind all parties that only facts presented to the Court at trial through witness testimony or admitted evidence will be used by the UJ when formulating a decision. However, we will be extremely mindful of the limited preparation time both sides will have had, and the lack of specific legal expertise by all parties. Don’t worry.
Brooks’ original complaint
As per Article IX, Section 7, Clause 4 of the Student Union Consitution, I wish to submit a complaint against the Chief of Elections, Secretary Nelson Rutrick and appeal his decision-making the Spring 2008 Senator-at-Large election. The two candidates on the ballot (i.e. Andrew Brooks and Justin Sulsky) should have been declared the winners of the Senator-at-Large election and write-in candidates Noam Shuster and Kaamila Mohamed should have been disqualified for their numerous elections violations.
During the course of the election, numerous complaints were submitted to the Elections Commission regarding several violations of elections rules by the campaigns of two write-in candidates (Shuster and Mohamed). These violations were mostly acts of libel on both the blog innermostparts.org and a facebook message sent out to the event “Silence”. Such malicious attacks aimed to damagingly misrepresent me as a candidate constitute libel and are illegal according to the Union Bylaws (Article X, Section 4, Clause 2) – note that the text of the bylaw specifically applies this provision to supporters of the candidate as well as to the candidates themselves. Citing Elections Rule 5, there is a presumption that candidates are held responsible for the rule-abiding of their supporters. There is precedent as well for this: in the Spring 2006 Senator-at-Large election, Jamie Ansorge was penalized for illegal action taken on his behalf and without his knowledge by a supporter.
Despite numerous cases of libel and slander being committed by Noam Shuster’s and Kaamila Mohamed’s mutual supporters and campaigns, the Chief of Elections decided to only give a mere warning for the first two complaints and didn’t investigate many of the others. This is totally unacceptable given the consequential permanent damage to my reputation. Votes were gained illegally through this libelous portrayal of my character, and given the resulting compromised nature of the election, I argue that the only appropriate action would have been disqualification for Noam Shuster and Kaamila Mohamed. In the one warning Nelson sent to the two write-in campaigns (in response to my first two charges of libel against innermostpart.org write-in supporters), he recognized that libel was present on the website and that further violations will be punished. Yet despite this warning, the original libelous statements were not removed from the website as requested. Rather, new additional edits to the posts in italics were written. A “warning to correct the violation” is one of the reasonable sanctions delineated in Elections Rule 10, yet Nelson’s warning didn’t correct the violation. In fact, it’s impossible to correct such a violation through a warning because once the libel has been disseminated to the voters, it will forever remain in the minds of voters. Many voters had already voted based upon these illegal remarks before Nelson’s warning was issued, nullifying the ability to correct the violation. Nelson’s lack of action for the other numerous cases of libel shows that the rules weren’t being enforced.
It can be further claimed that Nelson was biased against the enforcement of the Bylaws and Elections Rules regarding libel and slander. At the Mandatory Candidates’ Meeting, Nelson removed the obligation for candidates and their supporters to commit libel and slander, citing his “unfair treatment” by the Elections Commission from Spring 2008 Round 1 Elections. This commission had given Nelson a notation on the elections website saying he had “violated one or more elections rules” after the commission found that he had committed libel against one of his opponents in the Vice President Election. Nelson claimed that his mistreatment merited the removal of the libel and slander elections rule. When it was pointed out to Nelson that Article X, Section 4, Clause 2 of the Bylaws mandated the following of the libel and slander elections rule, he grudgingly added the rule back in. It can be further proved that Nelson intentionally didn’t reappoint particular members of the previous elections commission to oversee Spring 2008 Round 2 Elections who had ruled in favor of enforcing the libel rules against him in his campaign for Vice President. As a result of his personal problems with the libel and slander regulations, Nelson’s personal bias impacted his ability to be an impartial enforcer of the Constitution, Bylaws and Elections Rules during the Spring 2008 Senator-at-Large Election.
An additional violation from the Shuster and Mohamed campaigns was the fact that they began campaigning before meeting with an elections commissioner. Elections Rule 8 states that “Write-in candidates are bound to the rules set by the Chief of Elections.” In addition, Article IX, Section 7, Clause 3 of Union Constitution also says the elections rules are binding on all Union members and organizations (i.e. everyone on campus). Elections Rule 11 further states that “These rules apply to all candidates running for office”, and by definition a write-in candidate is still a candidate. At the Mandatory Candidates Meeting, the Chief of Elections stated that no one may begin campaigning until they meet with a commissioner. Campaigning (i.e. soliciting votes) was clearly done in this case, as both candidates had facebook groups created, sent out invitations to these groups, and began going door-to-door. Neither had met with a commissioner before beginning their campaigns, again violating the rules. Thus, each candidate gained votes through this illegal activity according to the elections rules and Union Constitution (i.e. campaigning before meeting with a commissioner). It is clear that Noam Shuster’s campaign was able gain the necessary votes to force a final round election through this illegal activity. Without illegal campaigning, most of those voters wouldn’t have known to write her in as a candidate. There is precedent for the enforcement of this rule as well. When Charlie Chelnik ’10 ran a write-in campaign for Rosenthal Quad Senator in Fall 2007, he was disqualified for campaigning and flyering before meeting with an Elections Commissioner before the primary round. When this violation was brought to Nelson’s attention, he refused to enforce the rule, claiming that he didn’t think it should apply to write-in candidates. It is irrelevant whether this rule should or shouldn’t apply. Rather, the fact remains that the Constitution and Elections Rules both say that all the rules are binding upon all students, both candidates who appear on the ballot and write-in candidates.
I request that the Union Judiciary organize its thinking towards disqualifying candidates Shuster and Mohamed as write-ins from the primary round ballot and recognizing Justin Sulsky and Andrew Brooks as the winners of that round. Please note that this is within the scope of the Union Judiciary, as per Article X Section 6 of the Union Bylaws: “Should a candidate be disqualified after balloting has been completed, a new election for that position shall be held if the disqualification affects the outcome of the ballot.” As the ballot will not be affected by removing write-in candidates post election (the ballot will still appear the same with Sulsky and Brooks as the only two candidates for two Senate seats and as the top two vote receivers), this is within the Union Judiciary’s ability. In addition, it is the only fair action to take as the slander and libel against my good name has had a permanent and lasting effect on my ability to wage a successful election campaign in the future.
The Union Judiciary has full discretion in this matter. According to Article IV, Section 11 of the Union Constitution, the discretionary power of the Chief of Elections is superseded by that of the Union Judiciary, as “The Union Judiciary shall be the final arbiter of all Union Government elections.”
Andrew Brooks ‘09
And there you have it.