The trial for the re-election in the case of Student Government Association vice president Justin Bruno was held on Thursday at the Leon County Courthouse.
Florida A&M University’s Student Relations Committee chairman Victor Chrispin and Judicial Rules Committee Chairman Pernell Mitchell filed an appeal immediately following the election, claiming several violations occurred on FAMU’s College of Law campus in Orlando.
According to the Chrispin-Mitchell ticket they discovered that the Electoral Commission did not have representatives at the Orlando site, including a precinct supervisor, or a member of the executive, judicial branches, the Student Senate or other required committees during the counting of the votes.
Bruno filed an injunction against the appeal demanding that his team never got a chance to contest the appeal made by the senators.
Bruno was represented by Attorney Mutaqee Akbar of the Akbar Law Firm, who strongly opposed the appeal of the defense stating “in the memo that was written by the University, it states that The College of Law vote was not final due to the stipulations taking place at the time.”
Akbar also implied that the votes at the College of Law can be re-done in order to finalize the entire campus vote, which is still an available option for Bruno’s campaign.
FAMU assistant general counsel Funmi Ojetayo maintained his perspective that Florida statute, GOP regulation and the student body constitution’s only option is to affirm or to remand for reconsideration by the student judiciary.
“We will file a writ of prohibition and stay because we believe that this ruling was manifestly defunct and not in accordance with law, with statutes, precedents or anything. The plaintiff failed to prove his case in regards to injunctive relief,” Ojetayo said.
After an hour-long recess Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled in favor of the plaintiff, granting a temporary injunction that will halt a full-scale re-election to determine FAMU’s next SGA president and vice president.
The verdict means that a re-election will only be held at the College of Law in Orlando and not the main campus, so the entire student body will not have to vote again.
Bruno said he is pleased with the judge’s ruling, but winning isn’t his motivation for filing the injunction.
“Winning is not as important as doing what is right and showing leadership in defense of maintaining this coveted democratic process,” Bruno said. “We agree with the judge’s order and could not be more pleased with the outcome. We believe that all parties should respect the Court’s ruling.”
Among the students in attendance was FAMU Junior senator, Simone Nisbett. She weighed in on how she felt about the outcome of the case.
“The implications of this verdict are much larger than this re-election, and that’s what we were afraid of when we found out Bruno decided to sue,” Nisbett said.
The campaign trail will run until Election Day on Tuesday, and the next hearing for the case is set for May 5 at the Leon County Courthouse.