The senate found SGA President Larry O. Rivers guilty on six counts of “malfeasance of his duties,” and after four and a half hours of deliberation voted to remove him from office early Thursday morning. However, dean of students, Henry Kirby, who spoke on the behalf of Vice-President for Student Affairs Patricia Green-Powell, said, despite the verdict, Rivers will continue to serve as SGA president.
“Larry is still the president,” Kirby said Thursday.
Student Supreme Court Chief Justice Maya Simmons and Senate President Michael Morton said in a joint statement Thursday that Rivers is not the president and will be replaced by SGA Vice-President Virgil Miller.
“As a result of Larry Rivers’ conviction on the aforementioned charges, the Student Senate voted to remove SGA President Larry Rivers from office. . The new SGA President Virgil Miller may select a new SGA vice-president who shall be approved by the Student Senate with two-thirds vote.”
The senate, which served as the jury in the 90-minute impeachment trial Wednesday evening, found Rivers guilty on six of seven impeachment charges.
“This is what we came up with as a body and this is what we will stand behind,” Senate President Michael Morton said.
Rivers, who was not present at the trial nor sent legal representation, said that the impeachment process was invalid and unconstitutional. He submitted a notice of appeal to the Office of Student Affairs Thursday. Rivers says he is appealing the process by which he was removed from office, not the verdict.
“I am in no way defending myself for allegations made at an unconstitutional impeachment trial,” Rivers said.
Kirby said the notice of appeal was received and the Office of Student Affairs will act accordingly based on all the facts.
The trial, which attracted dozens of students, only consisted of arguments from Jarrett Tyus, a senior political science and public management student who served as the special prosecutor for the senate. Tyus, the former solicitor general who was fired by Rivers two weeks ago, said he had no ill feelings toward his former boss.
In opening statements Tyus explained that he would prove Rivers never advertised open positions in SGA, failed to reappoint vacant positions, falsified documents, lied to the senate on two occasions, violated the students’ and SGA officials’ right to due process, and failed to adhere to legal precedent provided by the judicial branch.
Tyus also said Rivers violated the Whistle Blowers Law, which states that an employee cannot be fired due to a complaint made about the employer.
Tyus asked the jurors not to rely on rumors and to listen to the facts.
“I’m here to tell you that the speculation concerning this case is false.all that is presented tonight will be true.what kind of president would do this to the student body,” Tyus said.
Twenty pieces of evidence were submitted to the 35-member jury.
The first piece was financial records of the executive branch. Tyus said the document would show Rivers is spending money reserved for staff positions that remain unfilled.
“About $220,000 out of $314,000 was spent so far since school started this semester,” Tyus said. “Seventy-seven thousand is supposed to be for OPS contracts, allocated to pay staff.
” Since there is no staff where is this money going?” Tyus asked.
Tyus also submitted memorandums that had been exchanged between SGA branches to prove that Rivers knew about the ineligibility of Kristen Jackson, who he appointed for associate supreme court justice.
Other evidence was presented to prove Rivers lied about not appointing a candidate for legal counsel of the student supreme court. According to Tyus, Rivers said he never appointed Darius Graham as legal counsel.
Tyus entered a videotape into evidence of Rivers recognizing Graham as legal counsel and Tyus as solicitor general.
Also entered into evidence was an alleged falsified document that Rivers submitted as judicial interpretation from 1999.
Tyus claimed the document was falsified because it had no date, no signatures and was not on university letterhead.
Benjamin Evans III can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.