Judicial council senate election ruling called into question
CSUN undergraduate student government president Mark Ciavola has called into question the CSUN Judicial Council’s conduct during the last invalidated senate election.
The council ruled in October that the elections were invalid because they were improperly conducted.
Ciavola said that he was told by two council members that they had ruled in favor of upholding the election in what turned out to be an unofficial vote. He said he was surprised when an official vote resulted in an invalidation, which would have meant that members switched their votes.
“I just don’t understand how they arrived at one decision and then changed to something else,” he said.
Ciavola believes that the judicial council did not follow their own operating policy, which states that justices must first hear from a defendant and plaintiff during a case and hold a question and answer period before deliberation.
As stated in article III, section B, Subsection three of the policy, which Ciavola said the council has violated, “After the session of the council will enter closed deliberations in which the council must vote on a proposed opinion.”
After the council reaches a decision, a justice from the majority and minority positions may write an opinion based on the ruling.
While he did not act on his suspicions when the elections were invalidated, Ciavola said that information he received on Monday from members of the judicial council prompted him to act.
According to Ciavola, he was told by Chief Justice Kendrick De La Pena and Associate Justice Robin Gonzales that the council voted several times during deliberation, but that many justices changed their vote afterwards.
He also said that the justices had read the majority and minority opinions before the a final vote was even held.
“If you read the majority opinion it is extremely lengthy and it points out every miniscule, minor, tiny little detail that was not perfect,” Ciavola said. “At that point you start to wonder whether or not that opinion was actually written to sway people.”
Ciavola spoke to the UNLV Office of General Counsel to see what recourse he had.
“My original wish is that there could be an independent investigation,” Ciavola said.
He found that to launch such an investigation, he would need to go through an organization with the proper resources and chose the Office of Student Conduct (OSC).
However, the OSC told him that someone above CSUN would need to request the investigation. The only group above CSUN is the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents.
Ciavola spoke to NSHE Chancellor Dan Klaich, who declined to launch the investigation because he does not feel he has the authority to do so and was hesitant to order the investigation while there are still unsettled inquiries into the second election.
In a memo given to The Rebel Yell and CSUN officials, Ciavola called for De La Pena to order an injunction for all CSUN senate seats until the investigation is closed.
“We look forward to working with legal to solve this issue,” said De La Pena. “I can’t say anything else at this point in time.”
Ciavola’s accusations have not been confirmed or denied by the judicial council.