To the students of The University of Mississippi:
It has come to my attention that the proceedings of the Associated Student Body Judicial Council have been considerably misconstrued. I am writing in hopes to give some clarity to all events surrounding the judicial ruling regarding the title of Colonel Reb. Below is a sequential timeline of the process in adjudicating the anonymous appeal and the constitutional procedure that was followed by the ASB Judicial Council. However, before moving on to outline the procedure and process used in adjudicating the appeal, a few notes about the Judicial Council should be considered.
1. The Chair of the Judicial Council does not vote in any proceedings, except in the event of a tie. As the Chair, I, Courtney Pearson, did not vote in the judicial proceedings. From the recent social media harassments and deformations of character, it is clear that many do not understand that the judicial ruling is not, in any regard, a unilateral decision made by myself. Although many of the comments are disguised as attacking the “process” of the ASB Judicial Council, they are rooted in attacking the person. In addition, as attacks and opinions have come in from those who are “confused about the process,” none have contacted me regarding the process. The hearing and decision being made unilaterally by me at the “eleventh hour,” is unfounded. As Chair, I am not a voting member and the vote was, in fact, unanimously made by a council diverse in race, gender, affiliation, and background. The only difference in having the hearing Tuesday night compared to a later date would have been the person conducting the official proceedings, not a difference in the voting members.
2. The appointment of Judicial Council members is for tenure. Termination of Judicial Council members does not coincide with the transition of Judicial Chairs.
3. Due to the separation of powers, appealing to the Judicial Council, constitutionally, does not have to be passed through the ASB Senate/Legislative Branch. Attention has been raised asserting that the resolution regarding Colonel Reb did previously arise in the Student Life committee; however, it was tabled due to the beliefs that student input was needed. The Senate process of legislation has not thoroughly been explained and also demands further clarification. However, considering matters of constitutionally is a purpose of the ASB Judicial Council, not ASB Senate.
4. It is not the responsibility of the ASB Judicial Council to notify other members of the ASB elected officials, ASB senate, cabinet, or the student body with the exception of the Attorney General, with whom the responsibility of publicizing the decision lies. Per the Constitution (Title I. Section 116. D. 2), “The Attorney General will issue written opinions clarify legislation, provisions of the ASB, and other such orders and functions of the ASB as shall require clarification.” Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to publicize such decisions.
5. A process for the Attorney General to investigate or declare that a process and/or a decision made by the Judicial Council as unconstitutional, does not exist. Because there is not a process in which the Department of Justice (Title I. Section 116) can declare a judicial procedure or decision unconstitutional, such actions would, in fact, be unconstitutional themselves.
Below is the sequential outline of process in which the Associated Student Body Judicial Council
declared the title “Colonel Reb” unconstitutional.
March 19, 2013- An anonymous appeal was submitted to the Student Conduct Office addressed to the Judicial Council.
March 20, 2013 (3:30pm)- A meeting was held between the Advisor and the Judicial Chair informing acting University Judicial Chair that 3 hearings were necessary for the upcoming week. (This meeting is customary to occur weekly.)
– (7:41pm) An email was sent to the Judicial Council notifying them of all pending hearings and requesting their availability.
– (8:09pm) An email was sent to Attorney General Matthew Kiefer and Attorney General-elect Rob Pillow requesting their presence at the ASB hearing should the council have any questions regarding the ASB Code and Constitution.
– After receiving the request, neither AG Kiefer nor AG-elect Pillow questioned or requested to contest the process of the ASB judicial procedure.
March 25, 2013 (7pm) – The hearing occurred at this date and time due to the Student Teaching and class obligations of the Chair, the availability of the Judicial Council members, additional hearing obligations for the same week (two of which were not ASB matters), and to support Title III. Section 101. Rule 1 (The rules govern the Procedure in the Student Judicial Council and are to be construed to secure the just and speedy determination of every action).
-An Associated Student Body Judicial Hearing occurred regarding the appeal.
-The Judicial Council did not have questions for AG Kiefer and AG-elect Pillow.
-After AG Kiefer and AG-elect Pillow were permitted to leave, AG Kiefer requested the procedure taken by the Judicial Council.
-The council, per policy, deliberated in private and reached a decision. (The decision was published in yesterday’s Daily Mississippian)
-Following the hearing, AG Kiefer and AG-elect Pillow received an email outlining the constitutional procedure that was taken by the ASB Judicial Council.
-After receiving this email, neither AG-Kiefer nor AG-elect Pillow requested to contest the process.
March 26, 2013- The decision of the Associated Student Body Judicial Council was emailed to AG Pillow and former AG Kiefer.
-After receiving the decision, neither AG-Kiefer nor AG-elect Pillow requested to contest the process of the ASB Judicial Council.
-The release of the decision was at the sole discretion of AG Pillow and was released on April 2, 2013.
Constitution of the Associated Student Body
Article V: Section 7: PROCEDURE BEFORE THE STUDENT JUDICIARY
Unless otherwise provided by law, the Judicial Council and all inferior courts that may be established shall adopt and employ their own rules of procedure.
Article V: Section 9:
Nothing in the ASB Constitution or in any existing law or procedure enacted in the future shall deny a student the right to a hearing conducted in such a manner as to do substantial justice.
Below is the process which governed the Associated Student Body Judicial Council in adjudicating the anonymous complaint. These are the same procedures that were emailed to AG Kiefer and AG-elect Pillow on March 25, 2013, which they did not contest.
Inability to Follow Procedure:
The Associated Student Body Constitution does not outline a way for anonymous complaints to be handled; it neither forbids nor permits their filing, which makes this an unprecedented circumstance. Thus, the following actions were taken:
According to Title III. Section 101, Rule 5, Letter B “Complaints should be filed during normal operating hours of the ASB office with the staff member on duty.” However, the position of a “staff member on duty” does not exist. In addition, the office hours of Attorney General Matthew Kiefer were not posted. Thus the anonymous complainant was not able to file their complaint during “normal operating hours” for these two reasons. The complaint was therefore brought anonymously to the Student Conduct Office addressed to the Judicial Council. Since the infrastructure to follow procedures in Title III, Section 101, Rule 5 and Rule 6 was not made available by Attorney General Kiefer and after receiving the complaint, the Associated Student Body Judicial Council operated under Title III, Section 101, Rule 7.
“Process. The procedures for process shall follow those that are outlined in the ‘M’ Book. The Attorney General shall provide the Judicial Council with all pertinent information including previous rulings and current ASB rules.”
The Associated Student Body Judicial Council referenced the most accurate document. The most accurate document, for which the Associated Student Body is operating, is dated April 30, 2011. However, this date does not comply with Title 1. Section 116, Letter D, Number 4 which states that “The Department of Justice shall be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the laws of the ASB are codified and shall cause the ASB Code to be reprinted annually with the Campus Senate approved laws; this is to be completed prior to the beginning of Fall semester.” The violation of this section of the Code and Constitution therefore calls into question the validity of the current Code and Constitution in which all three branches operate, something which must be acted upon as soon as possible. The “M” Book procedure followed is outlined in DSA.DS.300.001 (Structure of the University Conduct System), DSA.DS. 300.002 (Initiation of Proceedings), and DSA.DS. 300.003 (University Conduct Process) in which 4.C deems that “During the course of the hearing, the chair of the panel shall make procedural and evidentiary determinations, which are final.”
Through this situation, all ASB Officials, both outgoing and newly elected, seem to agree that we must revise and update our ambiguous Constitution. It is obvious that there is desperate need to revisit the language of the ASB Constitution; however, that is not the responsibility of the Judicial Council. This fault-riddled Constitution has been a source of frustration and confusion for the Judicial Council for several years, and despite numerous pleas, nothing has been done to rectify these issues. The Judicial Council must follow the most appropriate processes and reach the best decisions given the available information, all the while considering the best interests of The University of Mississippi community. For all students who feel confused or betrayed by the process, we apologize that the process was not explained in greater detail from the beginning. We felt that we correctly proceeded into territory for which there was no precedent. From this situation, we have learned that more transparency and communication is needed between the branches of the ASB. We hope this letter provides better insight into the role of the Judicial Council and the specific proceeding regarding Colonel Reb. It is our sincere hope that the difficulties confronted in this situation will be avoided in future Judicial Council decisions.
With best intentions,
Courtney Pearson, Former Judicial Council Chair
Travis Gray, Vice-Chair