Mertes to argue case alone

By Jami Peterson

Although student Regent James Mertes wrestles alone against the student judicial system, the Student Association Senate is waiting behind the rope for his tag.

Mertes, who first approached the SA Senate about three weeks ago, said he is willing to go to the Student Judicial Advisory Board to get changes with the investigational and hearing procedures made in the judicial office.

Mertes, however, said he will not go to the University Council on a student judicial code matter. After last semester’s controversy, this would give the impression that the UC has authority in these type of cases.

Although SA President Preston Came is on his side, Mertes will be fighting his battle with one sword.

“I’m encouraging him (Mertes) to go forward and keep putting together ideas on how to reform the judicial system,” he said.

Came said his major concerns are with student hearing procedures because he believes “the judge is working for the prosecutor.” He said he also is concerned with a policy which states a student advocate can be subpoenaed to testify against a student if a case is advanced to the state.

“I think definite reforms (with the judicial system) are needed,” Came said.

The student judicial system should be run in the same way as the state judicial system, he said. “Student rights should be as well protected in the student judicial code as they would be in a court of law.”

But, Judicial Office Director Larry Bolles said the student judicial system is not a court of law, and never was meant to be. “We’re not practicing law without a license,” he said.

He said all college judicial systems are run in the same manner and the process has been challenged a number of times.

“The system has constantly been tested—and given a clean bill of health,” he said.

The student judicial system is a group of people adjudicating their own cases with a judicial board made up of students, he said, not lawyers and judges working for defendants and plaintiffs.

“If you want a court of law, you should go to a court of law,” he said.

Bolles said the advocates are not working for him and he is not the judge. The advocates are chosen from the Residence Hall Association and the SA, and students can choose their own advocate. The guilt or innocence of a student in a student hearing is determined by a judicial board made up of students.

“I’m just a presenter of information to the board as to why we want to do what we’re doing,” he said.