Stability and organization are the mantras for the Student Government Association’s Judicial Branch.
After years of small numbers and cases in the open Supreme and Traffic Courts, Student Body President Breyon Love said he wants to see this year’s Chief Justice appointee Chris Weaver help the lackluster branch return to its former glory.
Love appointed Weaver to the branch yesterday after interviewing several candidates for the position. Weaver was chosen, he said, because of his experience of more than four years with the branch and in-depth knowledge of the Student Constitution.
“He’s a very fair, knowledgeable person, and can lead the j-branch in the right direction,” Love said. “In the past it’s just been (the Senate President) and I, but now we have three people to balance decision-making in SGA.”
Appointing Weaver is the first step in the process to swear him in. Weaver has to undergo an interview with the
Elections and Appointments Committee, then another with the Student Senate before he can be confirmed.
Weaver, a political science graduate student from Fort Lauderdale, already has plans lined up, however, for the branch.
He wants to make it a prerequisite for students to have at least a year of experience in the judicial branch before being appointed to a justice position. This, he said, will help decrease the heavy turnover of student positions from year to year.
“When you go almost a year without having a case on the Supreme Court, you can end up having a court where no one has tried a case before, and that’s an inexperienced court,” Weaver said. “That affects the credibility of the court. We want people with hands-on experience with a case and how it goes in real life.”
Another goal Weaver and Louis Jean-Baptiste, Love’s appointee for the Associate Chief Justice position, have added to their list of goals for the branch is to increase student traffic in the courts. Weaver said controversies among student groups can be referred to the Judicial Branch, and he would like to see more of a variety of cases than just election appeals.
A recent conflict between Sophomore Senators Natalie Amore and Marquise McMiller would have fit perfectly into the code of conduct’s description of cases that can be taken to the court. Jean-Baptiste agreed, and said a lot of students don’t understand their rights and how appealing to the Judicial Branch can help their cases.
“Parking services is making a lot of money off the backs of students because students don’t know their rights to appeal,” Jean-Baptiste said. “They wouldn’t make half that money if students took advantage of the traffic court.”
Jean-Baptiste said Weaver has the experience and knowledge to lead an almost entirely new Judicial Branch. With some of the changes would hopefully come respect and credibility from fellow student government organizations, he said.
“The Judicial Branch Chief Justice just doesn’t get that respect as a branch head,” Jean-Baptiste said. “The Senate president and the Senate Pro tempore get that respect, but I don’t feel like he gets that same recognition and respect as Chief Justice.”
Kashif Smiley, a FAMU alumnus and former chief justice, said a new Chief Justice is just the first step in strengthening the Judicial Branch. There need to be improvements in communication between the other branches as well, he said.
Jean-Baptiste, however, said Weaver’s appointment has the potential to be the beginning of a new era for the formerly unstable branch.
“There was no organizational structure in past years,” Jean-Baptiste said.
“Any organization has to have hierarchy and order.” Otherwise, you can’t function.”