The James Scott v. Student Government trial is postponed until further notice after pre-trial conferences.
The case involves newly elected senator and former student body president James Scott against student government over the issue of SG’s financial authority.
Scott sent a request for trial in September accusing SG of preventing proper budgeting for a bill titled “Beyond Sustainability” last June, which would approve the building of an energy monitoring system for campus structures. He holds Jozef Gherman, chief financial officer, responsible for withholding the bill’s budget by violating the SG constitution. Senate Pro-Tempore Jared Pieniazek is also on trial for being Gherman’s supporter.
The trial was scheduled for Nov. 20. But Steven Bird, attorney general deputy, the defendants’ attorney, requested a motion of continuance, which gives both parties a two-week discovery period to gather their material for the trial. Bird has been the defense attorney for a week after Melanie Mercado was fired from her position as attorney general.
The Clean Energy and Resource Conservation Commission, who formed the idea for an energy monitoring system, would establish the Green Revolving Fund, which supports the projects by reducing resources usage and reusing savings for future projects. Scott said it would make USFSP financially sustainable.
The case started in June when Gherman found that the monitoring system budget wasn’t spent before June 30. The date marked the end of USFSP fiscal year. This caused CERCC’s spending authority to expire. The original request got lost and the money was swept back to the reserves.
Gherman used Florida statutes to support his action, which state that undisbursed money remaining at the end of the fiscal year is carried over to the activity and service fund until the next fiscal year.
Scott found his action a violation of SG’s constitution Article 1 Section II, which states “The powers and responsibilities of Student Government… shall not conflict with University Regulations or any other municipal, state or federal law.” He argues that Gherman overstepped his constitutional authority. He finds the money is still accessible, but needs to resolve the issue with SG.
“The project was approved fairly last semester”,” Scott said. “But Gherman asserted that the state laws are supposed to be reinterpreted in his own terms. The state law is not clear. I think the case’s arguments is more about how it was funded than about law.”
Gherman finds Scott’s argument valid, but just a matter of opinion.
“It’s a ridiculous notion that the opinion of just one person should be binding”,” Gherman said. “He doesn’t realize that there are laws to be abided and kept from breaking.”
Both parties are to submit their material (witnesses, evidences) for the case by Dec. 3.