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Case Files

The Student Court will make available any documents relating to a case following the issuance of an opinion. This is an ongoing project and the following list is incomplete. Many documents are not available. Document and opinion format may vary between court sessions. Private information such as home address or personal contact information will not be disclosed and the following documents may be censored.

Court Rulings

S-2019-MT-001: Young McCarthyists v. Duncan

Mock trial background: On March 20th, 2019, the Full Senate granted an appropriation bill to an organization called "Americans For Communist Utopia," an organization that was not affiliated with UNM undergraduate students and in fact counted no students among its members. The Finance Committee allowed the appropriation by defining AFCU as a "Service Entity." The petitioner, a chartered student organization called Young McCarthyists, sued, claiming that the AFCU did not meet the definition of "service entity" under the ASUNM Law Book and should not have been granted the appropriation. The petitioner named respondent Riley Duncan, ASUNM Vice President, as the responsible party and demanded the appropriation be rescinded and disciplinary action be taken, as well as an apology issued from ASUNM.

Held: The service that a "service entity" provides must be an action that provides a clear benefit which is reasonably available to all students. The AFCU's particular actions and content of its speeches, coupled with the context of the academic environment, constituted a benefit in this case; thus, the Court affirmed the respondent's decision to issue an appropriation.

CARRILLO, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRADER, COOK, GARCIA, and VALERIO, JJ., joined.

Complaint | Answer | Opinion

2018-Mock Trial: Fall v. Collins

Mock trial background: In January 2018, Senator Terry Matrix was put on trial for failing to attend committee meetings or office hours. In a 3-2 decision, the Court ruled not to sanction him, instead giving him a warning and instructing him to begin attending. After the trial, Senator Lucy Fall filed a complaint with the Court. She claimed that two days before the trial, she had witnessed a friend of Senator Matrix give a gift card to Chief Justice Collins. Senator Fall believed that Matrix's friend, Senator Alan Boxer, had deliberately intended to sway the Chief Justice's opinion, who voted in the majority. Fall requested a re-trial of Senator Matrix, as well as sanctions for both Senator Boxer and Chief Justice Collins.

Held: The Court does not have the authority to re-try the case against Senator Matrix; Court decisions may only be appealed to the Student Conduct Committee. Senator Boxer did not violate either the Constitution or the Law Book, even if his intention was to sway the Chief Justice's vote; no current law specifies a moral code sufficient to forbid his action. The Court recommended that legislation to that effect be introduced. Chief Justice Collins did violate the Judicial Code by accepting a gift that could give the appearance of influencing her vote; she was thus suspended from her duties as Chief Justice for four weeks.

AVILA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which CARRILLO, MCELROY, and PEÑA, JJ., joined. COLLINS, C.J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Complaint | Answer | Opinion

2017-Mock Trial: "Team ASUNM" v. ASUNM

Mock trial background: A group of candidates running for Senate under the group name "Team ASUNM" collectively spent $350 to purchase 10,000 campaign flyers listing each of their names. The Elections Commission determined that this violated the Election Code, which states that candidates are limited to $250 in campaign expenditures, and fined each candidate $150. The Elections Commission also imposed a sanction prohibiting the candidates from assuming office. Team ASUNM appealed to the Student Court, claiming that only 7,000 of the 10,000 flyers were used for campaign purposes, worth a total of $245.

Held: Team ASUNM violated the Election Code. The Court upheld the $150 fine per candidate, but removed the additional sanction. The Elections Commission erred in informing candidates that they could, under some circumstances, spend more than $350; the Court found that doing so for any reason violates the Election Code.

COLLINS, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which AVILA and PEÑA, JJ., joined. CARRILLO, J., filed an opinion concurring in judgment, in which MCELROY, J., joined.

Complaint | Answer | Opinion

2015-02: Hagengruber v. Matanis

Background: Vice President Jenna Hagengruber filed a complaint against Senator Bryce Matanis, claiming he had failed to attend to his senatorial duties and had been issued four demerits. Based on the senator's history of lack of communication, the Vice President suggested removal from office.

Held: Senator Matanis was removed from office. The Court issued a default judgment against the defendant, as Senator Matanis failed to file an Answer or Responsive Motion to the Vice President's Complaint.

CORDOVA, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which SAASTAMOINEN, CLARKE, FOUTS, and BARANY, JJ., joined.

Complaint | Opinion

2000-01: Aguilar v. Goldfine

Background: Senators Brett Nunn and Ray Rivera vacated their senatorial seats in late August of 2000. Subsequently, Vice President Chris Mansfield asked Attorney General Simon Goldfine about the correct procedure for appointing replacement senators. Mr. Goldfine issued a response expressing his view that vacancies ought to be filled by runners-up from the same election in which the resigning senators ran. When asked for additional clarification, the Attorney General issued another opinion, stating the same view. Senators Steve Aguilar, Jr., and Grant Nichols appealed the opinions to the Student Court, stating that (1) the Attorney General's argument was based entirely on hearsay, (2) the opinions unambiguously conflicted with the ASUNM Constitution, and (3) the opinions ignored past precedence in related circumstances. The defendants asked that Mr. Goldfine's opinions be overturned and that candidates from the most recent election fill the vacancies of Senators Nunn and Rivera.

Held: Whereas the relevant section of the Constitution was indeed ambiguous, and whereas the Attorney General need not be bound by precedent when issuing opinions, the Court upheld the decision of the Attorney General. Note: The Constitution was subsequently amended to clarify that future vacancies must be filled by runners-up from the most recent general election.

PER CURIAM. CHAWLA, C.J., and GUERRA, BACA, and ESQUIBEL, JJ., joined the opinion.

Complaint | Answer | Opinion

1998-03: Tucker v. ASUNM

Background: The ASUNM Elections Commission held an election on April 8, 1998. Plaintiff Ben Tucker filed a Contest of Election the following day, alleging that (1) Not enough privacy was provided during the election as election officials watched over voters; (2) No printed instructions were delivered to voters, in violation of the Election Code; (3) The ASUNM Attorney General and ASUNM advisor, who worked the polls during the election, were ineligible to do so; (4) Election officials did not wear identification badges, at the time in violation of the Election Code; (5) Positions for poll workers were not advertised, in violation of the Election Code; and (6) The Attorney General tabulated election results, rather than an election official. The Elections Commission dismissed the charges. Tucker appealed to the Student Court, requesting the election be ruled invalid and a new election be held. During the trial, Tucker withdrew Allegation (2).

Held: (1) The Court heard no evidence to support the claim that being watched while voting would intimidate or scare off voters. (3) The Attorney General and ASUNM advisor were ineligible to be poll-workers; the defendant violated the Elections Code. (4) Identification badges were not worn in an unknown number of instances; the defendant violated the Elections Code. (5) The Elections Commission failed to advertise for poll-worker positions and did violate the Elections Code. (6) The Attorney General was termed a “designated assistant” and was thus eligible to aid in tabulating the results; the defendant did not violate the Elections Code. Though allegations (3), (4) and (5) were violated, the Court deemed them “irregularities” and upheld the results of the election. The Court further ordered the Attorney General to codify new legislation in time for a new election, and ordered the next Election Commission Chair to ensure that he or she was following the correct Code

PER CURIAM. PRESTON, C.J., and LANPHERE, LESTER and MOFFITT, JJ., joined the opinion.

Complaint | Answer | Opinion

1997-01: Davidson et al. v. Evangelist

Background: The ASUNM Senate met on April 9, 1997 and passed Appropriations Bill #25 to provide funds to the General Library. Megan Davidson, Keith Valles, Abby Anderson and Vicente Vargas filed a complaint after the passage of this bill for 3 different reasons. (1) First, the bill stated it would be funding “service groups”. At this time there was no definition for the term “service groups” and the petitioners wanted this clarified. (2) Secondly, the petitioners believed that first preference for funds should be given to student organizations because they are not already receiving student fees or university funds. The petitioner made the argument that several student groups were not receiving funding because they were receive money through the ASUNM and GPSA budge process. The purpose for this was to eliminate double funding of organizations. However, Appropriations Bill #25 was doing the exact opposite of this. The bill was funding the General Library by allocating funds from SFRB, voluntary donations and the university budget. The Appropriations Bill would be allowing the General Library to be triple funded. (3) Lastly, the petitioner requested review of the process on how the bill was passed. ASUNM Senate stated that they were in quorum during the vote to pass this bill. A quorum according to the UNM Constitution Article II Section 9(B) states, “Senators shall be sworn in by a Student Court Justice on the first day of the session. Quorum shall consists of two thirds of the seated Senate.” However the ASUNM Senate believed that due to passed Senate precedent this quorum could be filled by Executive Branch members. The ASUNM Senate said they filled their quorum by allowing Abby Anderson, ASUNM Treasurer, to vote with the other present members. For these reasons the petitioners requested review of the case, which was granted by the ASUNM Student Court.

Held: The ASUNM Student Court ruled in this case that (1) quorum was not filled, (2) the definition of “service organizations” was not to be decided by the court and lastly (3) the statute of limitations in this case has expired. Despite the statute of limitations being expired, the court ruled that the Appropriations Bill #25 would be invalid and all allocated funds should be returned to the ASUNM fund.

PER CURIAM. SANCHEZ, C.J., and GARCIA, KELLER, PRESTON, and SMITH, JJ., joined the opinion.

Complaint | Answer | Opinion