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Scandal Further Destroys Con Court Credibility

The Constitutional Court is supposed to be the most credible institution in a government desperately lacking in credibility. Or, as everyone’s favorite Senator, Nate Gulley puts it, “Nobody knows the rules better than Constitution Court.” Well, apparently just about everyone knows the rules better than Con Court, because it appears that Justice Jerome Roberts has been collecting an ASUO stipend despite no longer being a fee-paying student, according to this Emerald article.

We had heard this rumor some time ago, but lacking the staff to follow it up, we simply hinted at it. It turns out that Roberts had to withdraw from the UO at the end of fall term due to academic ineligibility, but served on Con Court, received a stipend, and even went on the infamous USSA trip to D.C. which his buddy Senator Nate Gulley so obligingly broke common-sense ethical standards to fund. Now, the Green Tape Notebook makes it clear that only fee-paying students may serve in the ASUO and receive stipends, so Mr. Roberts will be paying back the $375 he “earned” on a “payment plan” to be worked out with ASUO Finance Coordinator Madeline Wigen. However, President Axelrod has decided (shockingly) to do nothing about the fact that Roberts attended the already scandal-tainted USSA trip, because “he was comfortable with the contributions Roberts had made to the USSA and with Roberts having gone on the trip, even though he was not a University student” (NB, this is the ODE quoting Roberts who is paraphrasing Axelrod. Yeesh.)

So, what does Mr. Roberts have to say for himself? “It didn’t occur to me to think, ‘hey you’re not paying the I-fee any more, so you’re not eligible.’ The last thing on my mind was con court when I switched schools.” Well, you must have been doing a hell of a job, Mr. Former Justice. I mean, if you aren’t familiar with the most basic premise of the ASUO, which is that it is government BY Fee-paying students, FOR Fee-paying students, how good of a justice could you have been? Somehow, Roberts must think that he did a good job, because according to the ODE  “Roberts, who was confirmed to the court in spring 2006, said he plans to come back to the University in the fall and would like to once again hold a seat on the court.” Over my dead body, dude… shame on you for suggesting it, and shame on President Axelrod for encouraging you by saying “I think he would be eligible to hold any position. If he is a student and he is paying the incidental fee, he is eligible to run for any elected or appointed position.”

But there are even more questions coming out of this, some of which aren’t being answered. Such as, how did the Con Court not catch this itself? Where was Chief Justice Matt Greene in all of this? And for Gods sake, did Roberts rule on anything while he was not a student, and if not, why were we paying him to do nothing? The answer to these questions to date is a resounding “dunno.” Here’s what the ODE got:

Chief Justice Matt Greene is responsible for ensuring payment of stipends to other court members, according the court rules and procedures.

Greene said he was unaware that Roberts was no longer a student during winter term and said he does not have the power or ability to check on the enrollment status of other justices. Anyone may call the Registrar’s Office to ask if a student is currently enrolled.

Although Greene could not recall whether Roberts had participated in any rulings when he was not a student, he said only three members are required to make a ruling and Roberts would have been the fourth member on any decision he participated in.

Roberts also said he did not recall participating in any of the decisions made winter term. He recused himself from rulings regarding the rec center, where he works, and a ruling regarding the USSA trip.

Sorry, but this does not cut it, coming from the highest authority on ASUO rules. Chief Justice Greene should make public all decisions that Roberts ruled on immediately, and should probably resign as well. I’ve complained plenty about Con Court this year, but this is the final proof that they have zero credibility. Given the fact that there is no higher body which can rule on the Con Court’s behavior or rulings, Justices need to be held to a much higher standard. Another sad, pathetic, and embarrassing day for the entire ASUO.

  1. From Facebook says:

    Apparently, this is just a conspiracy to fling mud at Roberts.

    (on former ASUO president Adam Walsh’s facebook wall)

    Jerome Roberts wrote
    at 9:48pm on May 23rd, 2007
    Hey man I just want to let you know that Im glad you helped me get in the political system on campus. the ASUO and the ODE work together to propagate and perpetuate rumors and innuendos..which I LOVE. However im not all that upset because I could use the life experiance in mudslinging anyway.

  2. Niedermeyer says:

    Jaime, nobody forced Roberts to be a Con Court justice. It was his responsibility alone to know the rules when he volunteered for the spot. This situation is different from say, the Gulley decision, because although I disagreed with that decision, it was based in an interpretation of the GTN. The Roberts situation is not one of conflicting interpretations, but rather of gross error. I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand why people shouldn’t hold Con Court judges to a high standard.

    Of course Roberts usn’t the only one to blame here… If he was appointed in April of last year, than it’s Walsh’s fault for appointing a justice who didn’t know the rules, it was the Senate’s fault for not questioning him well enough at confirmation, and most of all it is Matt Greene and the Con Court’s fault for not catching this. Is it harsh to ask Roberts to pay back his stipend immediately? Perhaps, but I’m not fooling myself into thinking it will make that much of a difference… the damage has been done here. I agree that this is one of the many prices we pay for having an entirely student run government… the question is, how will it get better if we don’t criticize?

  3. Justice Pothead says:

    “Matt told me that Jerome was involved in one decision Winter term, but wasn

  4. Andy says:

    What is so ignoble about people with muscular dystrophy? You’re a fucking idiot jaime.

    Also, why are you attacking our program’s preceived size? We have many students who work their ass off, especially our editor, who are trying to do the right thing for this campus. Some think buying wind power is the right cause to support – we think holding student government accountable it. And you criticize us for doing that?

    Yea, we’re so insignificant with our thousands of visitors a month here, and our thousands of copies we print when we get around to it.

  5. Betz says:

    Jamie:

    Imagine if no such institution or entity existed that informed students when mistakes are made. Then there would be no incentive for students not to make mistakes, because no one would find out (or maybe two weeks later, when the ODE got around to it).

    The ASUO, as artificial as it may or may not be, is designed to be a training ground for those willing few who are eager to join the REAL political arena. You would PRETTY naive to think that mistakes in the real political realm are not critiqued harshly in public.

    It kind of makes one think why said mistakes deserve to be public news. But then of course: people want to know when their elected representiatives act in a manner that is unfitting of their position. As a “champion for the people,” these representatives are supposed to be held to higher professional and ethical standards than your average student. People like Nate Gulley and Roberts did not “materialize”, nor were their names picked randomly from the student directory, upon which the OC staff said, “Alright, lets get this f*cker!” (At least I am assuming, as I have not visited the OC office). No, these students did something that was unbecoming of their position. It’s not enough that their actions are simply “reported,” as the student newspaper is fairly apt at doing (if they get to it within two weeks). This style of reporting is not the most effective method for informing students and stirring debate. A forum of public opinion, however, can stir debate and inform it’s readers better than a newspaper can.

    Lastly, your remarks about not criticizing Roberts for his mistake as equivalent to cheerleading for more corruption: I find the words of the late Martin Luther King Jr. applicable in his speech on the Vietnam War, that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Not holding Roberts accountable would imply that he did nothing wrong.

  6. Jamie says:

    Did you just compare A supreme court justice with years of Legal experiance, moving to another country and still managing to find time to serve on the Court, to a student transferring schools while never leaving the city? Great analogy Ted.

    I think the point I was trying to make was, over the course of my postings I’ve come to realize that you believe NOT-tearing this kid a new one is equivalent to Cheerleading for more corruption. All your words are charged with negative connotations. Corruption implies fraud and dishonesty, when this error has been corroborated many times as an honest error, to which Roberts willingly agreed to pay back the money. But that wasnt enough, it had to be paid back in full IMMEDIATELY. That money wasn’t dispersed in one big check and I feel he shouldn’t have to come up with it in one big check. while $375 to the school is nothing to any student working to pay for school as it is, isn’t it a bit understandable that the money may be hard to come up with overnight. As far as his fundamental lack of knowledge, he hadn’t been on the court for one calender year yet, and there is no class that teaches the Green Tape notebook 101. There is no ASUO for dummies (I can only imagine the jokes that will ensue here) There isn’t even a true person that can be trusted to give guidance. The ASUO prides itself on the fact that it’s student run and perhaps there lies its biggest flaws. Each year dozens of inexperianced senators run for office and each year those that land on the PFC are handed the license to drive a $10 Million dollar school economy. They don’t want to mess up. No one, at least in this instance is trying to make mistakes. But if they do, then beware the rath of the commentator.

    Perhaps it’s good this rag is so insignificant, there an innocent few and I would hate to see their name dragged through the mud by a paper who’s mascot is a beer Mug. That would be like getting made fun of by a beneficiary of the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

  7. Niedermeyer says:

    “What makes me sick is that people keep saying corruption. What Jerome Roberts did wasn

  8. Jamie says:

    Miles all I have to say is Im glad this kids fate isn’t left up tp people like you. He shouldn’t have had the money in the first place!! Which further proves somone on the sending end of this story made the first mistake. And as always Oliver has nothing real to say just more D-Bag ramblings. Only time will tell what happens to him for sure.

  9. Olly says:

    “I can

  10. Miles says:

    Slack? No. The kid is not getting any slack. So he’s paying it back. He shouldn’t have even got the money in the first place, as he was not a student here for two terms. His position should have been replaced, and while trying to pass the buck off on someone else may make you look good…it doesn’t.

    Jamie, read this:

    Wrong is wrong, no matter what the issue is. Roberts was in the wrong. Axelrod was in the wrong. Sponko was in the wrong. Their heads should all be rolling right now, were it not for the fact that two out of the three are now off doing…well…whatever they’re doing.

  11. Jamie says:

    I can’t believe you’re correcting punctuation. What Star Wars convention did they find you in?! What makes me sick is that people keep saying corruption. What Jerome Roberts did wasn’t corrupt it was a mistake. What the ASUO did wasn’t corrupt it was a mistake. People act as if there was some plot to funnel I-Fee money away from the school into the pockets of non-students. The fact that he’s willing to pay back the money, on a plan of otherwise should show he’s deserving of some slack on the matter. Ignorance of the law doesn’t make this right but the vigor with which some people pursue this matter makes me think that any story that could make the ASUO look bad will be used as an Achille’s heel. By the way Oliver, the manner in which you dodged my point about Liora shows just how invalid your claims are.

  12. Olly says:

    “If he kept [saying he was] doing the work and it was an honest [sic] mistake [during which he got paid] then why does he have to pay the money back?”

    Please excuse the edits, but still. We’re talking about a mechanism that is already basically as corrupt as it can be; it doesn’t need people actually cheerleading for more corruption.

    “Isnt [sic] the school at fault for sending money willy-nilly to just anyone.”

    Yes.

    “Isnt [sic] it Liora Sponko

  13. Jamie says:

    I see. I guess my point is if he didnt try to take the money, and he kept attending meetings thinking he was a justice can’t we take it a bit easier. I mean I understand he was ineligible and since no one else picked up on it why should he share all the blame. Isnt it Liora Sponkos job to make sure these things dont happen? I feel like a lot of these posts have animosity thatis unecessary because what happened was an honest mistake. As far as work goes the legitimacy of the stipend isnt in contention here. There are plenty of stipended spots in the ASUO they may or may not sound like they deserve one on the face of things. I mean we’ve all heard of senators text messaging. So I dont want to rip him for that. I think the school needs to understand that the ASUO system is flawed and needs a bit more oversight.

  14. Betz says:

    Jamie: For two reasons.

    1) The “work” that Robert’s had done was questionable. As he admitted, Roberts had recused himself from all participation Winter term, yet he still sat on the court. So the question is: what the hell did he do during that time? Secondly, Matt Greene claimed that Roberts was the fourth deciding justice on any decision proposed before the court. Only three justices ae required to rule on any proposal, so Roberts may or may not have ruled on anything during his time on the court. None of the other justices can recall if he ever rules on anything (Theres some good ol’ fashioned ASUO record keeping for ya!), which begs the question: No, really…what the hell did he do during that time? Of course, some of the justices or senators might just be feigning ignorance over Robert’s supposed rulings to save their own asses from any other embaressment this term.

    2) Roberts was not a student. The purpose of student government and the ASUO is to establish a government for students, by students. If the ASUO were to be allowed to have non-students hold office, then there really would be no need for the ASUO to exist; all of it’s functions could be carried out by older, more experienced personnel like the kind who work out of Johnson Hall. But then again, as a student, I feel it’s important to have a government whose concern is the student body. Roberts should not have been on the Con Court in the first place. As if thats not enough of a reason to punish him, he got paid for it to! While $375 might not break the bank for the University, he should pay that money back (and I agree…at once) so as to save any last shred of accountability the ASUO ever had.

    Lastly, in this particular case (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), It’s not the University’s (The Administration’s) fault for distributing money on a whim; stipends are derived from the I-Fee, in which case this is student-distributed money we’re talking about; ie, the ASUO. It’s not Johnson Hall’s fault for dropping the ball on this one (or screwing the pooch…pick whichever phrase you like)…this is entirely an ASUO err.

  15. Jamie says:

    If he kept doing the work and it was an honest mistake then why does he have to pay the money back? Isnt the school at fault for sending money willy-nilly to just anyone.

  16. Dante says:

    Matt told me that Jerome was involved in one decision Winter term, but wasn’t sure if he had been involved in more. Funny how fuzzy his memory gets after a couple months.

  17. […] Wally Hicks. His testimony at Wednesday’s confirmation shows how well he understands the court’s current shortcomings, and how to fix them. “I want to hear from both parties. Is it politically charged? I would […]

  18. Timothy says:

    *sigh*

    Or maybe I wasn’t referencing Superman.

  19. Miles says:

    No no no. It’s ZOD. Not Zog.

    As in, y’know, “BOW DOWN TO ME JOR-EL” Zod.

  20. Dante says:

    I specifically remember speaking with Matt and him saying that Jerome had been involved in one decision but probably not more. Funny how his memory gets so fuzzy in a couple months.

  21. Miles says:

    No fiction for you.

  22. Jared says:

    I agree with you on the last one. I didn’t want to come off as making excuses for Jerome, I only wanted to defend the actions that I made, and justify them to people. As is expected, many people were not going to agree with the way that it was handled (as is the case now), but I felt that I owe it to the students (or, I guess, to those who read this blog) to explain my rationale.
    If anyone wants to talk about this further, I’ll be in the office today at 3:30pm.

  23. Niedermeyer says:

    Yeah, it’s obviously not a question of the ASUO collapsing because it can’t squeeze $375 out of Roberts soon enough… it’s a question of consistency and fairness. And to clear up my intentions, I want to see him pay it up now, rather than on a plan, because a) the precedent will be easy to remember and b) he’s already being cut a break on the USSA issue, and he deserves some kind of punishment. I’m not gonna get all twisted about it though… everyone comes out of this looking bad (Roberts and Greene especially), and laughable incompetence is it’s own punishment. I just don’t understand why you (Jared) would help out and make excuses for people who have let you down, and embarrased your government.

  24. Timothy says:

    However, I don

  25. Timothy says:

    So both justices cannot recall if he participated in decisions?! That is ludicrous.

    They are secretly Oliver North.

  26. Jared says:

    Niedermeyer: I see your and Tyler’s points about paying back all of the stipend at once. However, I don’t see how it really makes a difference, if he pays back $375 within one week or $375 over the course of a couple of weeks. Dollar-wise, it is still the same, which I think it the point of collecting the money back. I don’t think collecting it all at once is a “harsher” punishment – I feel that as long as the ASUO gets the money back, we can call it even, no matter if it takes one week or three. I guess if we ran the juice like they do in Rounders, it would be a different story.
    As for the Hate issue, all I can say is that I’m hoping I find Miles describing this story in another great work of fan-fiction…

  27. The outsider says:

    So both justices cannot recall if he participated in decisions?! That is ludicrous. What a joke. This court thinks they are so legit! I hope that someone files a grievance against the entire ASUO office to get money back from the vacation to DC. Better yet, let’s have someone bring them to the REAL court to get it back. It’s a public violation of state dollars. Ted, you looking for a summer project?

  28. T says:

    Buuuuuuurrrrrrrn. Score one Ted.

  29. Niedermeyer says:

    Jared: I’ve seen the way you read the GTN sometimes., I know how you feel about the rules. Ian’s point about immediate payment is a good one though, because it shows the weakness of the “just the rules ma’am” routine, which is that the ASUO rules just aren’t that comprehensive. I bet there’s no rule mandating when Jerome Roberts has to pay back his stipend, right? So, you “arrange a payment plan,” which is cool because there’s no rule against it. Just like there was no rule against Gulley’s vote for the USSA request, but for some reason, three people abstained for the same obvious reasons that he should have. I also think that people who are supposed to the highest authority on the rules (Con Court) should be more publicly rebuked for “forgetting” the most basic tenet of student government. Call me crazy.

    See ya in the Hate Issue!

  30. Ian says:

    If the ASUO went into the payday loan business* you could probably reduce the I-Fee by ~80% without any loss of service.

    * Er, make that student loan check day loan business.

  31. CJ Ciaramella says:

    “Oh, Roberts, we didn’t tell you? There was a 530% interest rate on that money. I guess if you don’t have it now, you could take out an advance payday loan.”

    Go ahead. Check into cash.

  32. Ian says:

    As I’ve said before, the great thing about the ASUO is that you can declare it as having hit a new low a few times a year and remain 100% intellectually honest about it.

    Roberts should have to pay back his portion of the USSA costs and illegally-gained stipends immediately, not through some ridiculous payment plan. Or is the ASUO attempting to enter the lending business?

  33. Jared says:

    Niedermeyer: You know me; I follow the rules, and that’s what I was responding to. It wouldn’t really be my place for me to advocate for or against Jerome getting a seat on the bench again. It’s the Exec (Emily & San) to hire someone, and the Senate to confirm them. I could say that if Jerome were to attempt to be on the Court again, he would face some heavy questioning. Any other questions about it, you know how to reach me.

  34. Niedermeyer says:

    Jared: I get it… you were just explaining the rules. Unfortunately, in this context it comes across like you somehow want him back on the bench. Your refusal to touch the USSA thing doesn’t reflect all that well, either. I disagree with Miles though… Greene is really the one responsible for the pooch screwing here. Under his leadership, the Con Court has had a pretty embarrassing year, between this and the begging for stipend increases (and not even considering the horrible Gulley ruling). Well, at least you’ve got a primer on what not to do next year, eh Mr. Future Chief Justice?

  35. Miles says:

    So, he was not eligible for the job after fall term as he had dropped out. Sounds like Jared screwed the pooch on this one. But, it doesn’t matter, as he gets to go back to the private sector as of tomorrow.

  36. Jared says:

    I’m not sure how you could say that I’m “encouraging” Jerome to hold a seat on the Con Court again. Jobetta asked me if the rules would allow him from holding a position again, and like I said the in the ODE, “I think he would be eligible to hold any position.” Eligible being the key word.

  37. Timothy says:

    Laughably typical. Way to go, Con Court!

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