ASUCI Judicial Board Rules in Favor of Gaspar, Reyes

Phuc Pham/New University

The ASUCI Judicial Board delivered its ruling on the Abdullah Siddiqui v. Reyes et al. on June 15, reaching a majority decision finding that Ryan Reyes and Andrea Gaspar did not intentionally lie under oath in their testimonies in the earlier Khorsandi v. ASUCI Elections Commission case. They were therefore not in violation of the ASUCI Code of Ethics and are not deserving of any sanctions.

Abdullah Siddiqui, who stepped down from Chief Justice of the Judicial Board and petitioned for a complaint on May 29 following the ruling on Khorsandi v. ASUCI Elections Commission, claimed that Reyes and Gaspar gave contradictory, untruthful testimonies under oath for that case, in violation of the Code of Ethics.

Siddiqui contended that Reyes’ testimony contradicted that of Traci Ishigo and Gaspar’s. Reyes had testified that he worked alone during the editing process, but Siddiqui said that by “viewing the video, Ms. Ishigo and Ms. Gaspar participated in the ‘editing process’ by having ‘creative input.’”

Secondly, Siddiqui claimed that Gaspar’s testimony on whether her campaign video “Rooted in Slate” was “premeditated” also was contradictory. The “professionalism” of the production and the “continuity” of her campaign video, Siddiqui said, show that the project had to have been planned beforehand.

The Judicial Board established its decision after developing a test to determine if Gaspar and Reyes had violated the Code of Ethics while under oath.

The four factors are:

1) Determine if there was deceit, omission of evidence or facts, and/or obstruction of evidence (accidental or basic contradiction);

2) Determine if the witness deliberately withheld, confused, or misrepresented the facts, evidence, and/or testimony;

3) Determine if the supposed false testimony disrupts, obstructs or interferes with the Judicial or governmental process;

4) Determine if the supposed false testimony is material to the case in which the testimony was delivered.

The Judicial Board then applied this test to all testimonies in question. For Reyes, the Board found contradiction in his testimony and that of Ishigo’s regarding the video editing process.

Reyes stated he had edited and uploaded the entire video by himself in one night. However, Ishigo had testified that Reyes had shown her and Gaspar the introduction of the video after he had finished it.

The Judicial Board established that there was a contradiction, but was split on whether or not  Reyes deliberately delivered a false testimony.

As a result, due to lack of substantial evidence “demonstrating that Mr. Reyes delivered the contradictory testimony with the purpose to deceive or withhold information,” the Judicial Board could not and did not indict Reyes.

As the prosecuting party, Siddiqui said he obviously disagreed with the ruling, but  brought up a larger issue that led him to file the petition against Reyes and Gaspar.

“Since I’ve been on the board, we’ve had several people come in for hearings and lie to us,” he said.

“As Chief Justice, I don’t feel that this case should go without something being said about the lies. I felt the integrity of the Judicial Board rests on people coming in lying.”

The Judicial Board determined that Gaspar’s testimony did not violate any of the four factors outlined in their test. While they did mention her testimony “could have been clearer and focused, this does not mean her testimony violated the Code of Ethics.”

For Gaspar, it was the final decision in a series of complaints regarding her campaign for ASUCI executive vice president.

The Elections Commission ruled in favor of Gaspar in the first complaint on April 26, and the Judicial Board upheld this decision on May 4 (Khorsandi v. Elections Commission), leading to the final case filed on May 29 by Siddiqui.

In a statement Gaspar released before the May 4 ruling by the Judicial Board, she stressed that her campaign for executive vice president was “just a tactic to further move our communities forward.”

Whether or not she is disqualified, Gaspar said she would continue to advocate for student leadership and rights, as “for years now we have been organizing without being part of ASUCI.”

“We have the power to bring people together, we have the power to organize, we have the power to alternate positions of power and actively advocate for students’ rights,” Gaspar said. “We do not need that office to organize.”

Siddiqui v. Reyes et al. had implications that reach farther than next year’s executive vice president position.

Justice Hernandez, who acted as interim Vice Chair, said the case filled an existing hole in the ASUCI legal system regarding what the Judicial Board can do if someone lies under oath or violates the Code of Ethics.

“This case sets a very strong precedent for future similar cases,” Hernandez said, “because the Judicial Board now has the tools (i.e. the Test) to determine not only if someone lied under oath or violated the Code of Ethics but also the severity of the violation as well as the sanction(s) that should accompany it.”

“Just like in any legal system, there are several holes in the ASUCI constitution [that] other governing documents cannot cover entirely. Therefore, when a new issue presents itself, these holes are covered via new legislation, executive orders, and/or case precedent.”