In unanimous decision, ASLMU Judicial Board overturns Senate impeachment vote, instead sanctions Diversity and Inclusion Senator

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Photo: Harrison Hamm

In unanimous decision, ASLMU Judicial Board overturns Senate impeachment vote, instead sanctions Diversity and Inclusion Senator

By Raven Yamamoto, Danica Creahan

In a unanimous 5-0 decision, the ASLMU Judicial Board has voted to overturn the impeachment of Diversity and Inclusion Senator Stephanie Martinez, choosing instead to sanction her for conduct uncovered during the Judicial Board’s hearing. Martinez will now retain her position in the senate. 

On Oct. 11, the ASLMU Senate voted to impeach Sen. Martinez after fellow Diversity and Inclusion Senator Orozco filed an impeachment complaint against her on the grounds that her anti-immigrant tweets and misrepresentation of her work with CHIRLA “severely damage[d] the integrity or authority of ASLMU or the office held by the individual in question.” The vote passed with an overwhelming majority (18 senators in favor), marking the first-ever impeachment of a sitting senator in LMU’s history. Sen. Martinez later appealed her case to ASLMU’s Judicial Board for review, as the governing body’s bylaws allow. The Judicial Board overturned the impeachment on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

According to the ASLMU Judicial Board’s Chief Justice Nile Whitmore, Sen. Martinez’ case is the first to be reviewed by the justices of the Judicial Board since the start of their term. 

Unlike ASLMU senators who are elected by the student body, the Chief Justice of the Judicial Board is appointed to their seat by the ASLMU President and Vice President. The appointed Chief Justice then appoints four Associate Justices to serve alongside them in reviewing conduct complaints relating to the violation of the ASLMU Bylaws, election committee decision appeals, and Student Activity Fund Allocation Board (SAFAB) decision appeals. 

Chief Justice Whitmore says no members of the Judicial Board were present at Sen. Martinez’ impeachment hearing after being advised not to attend. Whitmore says this was so they could remain impartial to Martinez’ case should she later decide to appeal. However, the board did review a recording of the initial impeachment hearing to “see specific language to contextualize certain arguments” in their decision-making.

The Impeachment Repeal

Sen. Martinez appealed the senate's vote to impeach her on Oct.18, the intended day for the scheduled removal vote. The ASLMU Judicial Board then reviewed Martinez’ case before unanimously voting to overturn the senate’s impeachment decision. 

In their public announcement of the decision, the board stated that they “determined that there was insufficient evidence for the Senate to reasonably find that Senator Martinez has committed impeachable improper conduct as defined by the Bylaws.” 

The board made their decision after determining “prejudice” that obstructed her “due process,” a lack of evidence regarding Martinez’ alleged “misrepresentation” of her relationship with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, and a lack of clarity within the impeachment complaint itself. 

The Judicial Board did, however, acknowledge in their statement the “troubling” nature of comments made by Sen. Martinez during her impeachment hearing regarding the LGBTQ+ community and Sen. Martinez’ apparent lack of regret for said statements. 

“The Judicial Board does agree with the Senate that Senator Martinez’s comments made during the impeachment hearing are disrespectful to the LGBTQ+ community, and should not be made by any ASLMU Senator, and especially a Senator for Diversity and Inclusion, who directly represents LGBGTQ+ individuals.” 

But because Sen. Martinez’ anti-LGBTQ+ stance came to light during the official impeachment hearing, instead of being presented prior to the hearing, Martinez’ anti-LGBTQ+ tweet could not be taken into consideration by the board in assessing Martinez’ appeal case. 

“I have not been made aware of the legislative process regarding the Judicial Board’s decision to repeal [the] impeachment,” said Sen. Orozco. “Regardless, ASLMU Senate decided in an overwhelming majority to impeach Senator Martinez, following the needs and concerns of our constituents. We will continue to support the needs of all LMU students.”

Sen. Martinez declined to comment on the decision, however, her self-proclaimed appeal advisor Scott Myers says that he was happy with the outcome of the appeal. 

“I felt confident that we would pull through, and I am very satisfied with the judicial board and their actions throughout the appeal,” said Myers, who assisted Martinez in preparing “various statements against the opposition” in the appeal process. Myers also testified on Martinez’ behalf during her impeachment hearing on Oct. 11. 


While the impeachment itself was overturned, the ASLMU Judicial Board did opt to sanction Sen. Martinez for conduct discovered during the judicial hearing that they found concerning. However, the Judicial Board does not qualify her sanctioned conduct as evidence for impeachment.

The board asserted that Martinez’ conduct places “her ability to fulfill her role as Senator for Diversity and Inclusion into question,” listing a number of offenses they found Sen. Martinez guilty of. These offenses include:

Sen. Martinez is now required by the Judicial Board to comply with four sanctions and their given rules.

First, Martinez must submit a public apology letter for her comments that “may have offended LGBTQ+ and undocumented students” and for her misrepresentation of her work with CHIRLA listed on her campaign platform “as she in fact did not volunteer.” Sen. Martinez must submit this letter to ASLMU Speaker of the Senate Kyle Saavedra by Nov. 10 to be read aloud at the subsequent weekly senate meeting. 

Second, Sen. Martinez must contact student organizations for “underrepresented groups” to publicize her weekly office hours that she has been largely absent from without missing more than 25% of her shifts, starting Nov. 10.

Third, Sen. Martinez is also required to meet with LGBTQ+ Student Services Director Lalo Moreno and Chicano/Latino Student Services Director Natalie Guevara to discuss her goals moving forward as a Senator for Diversity and Inclusion by Nov. 10.

Finally, Sen. Martinez must submit a minimum 1,000-word project proposal or research paper to Speaker Saavedra, outlining ways to serve “either or both of these communities [LGBTQ+ and undocumented students]” by Nov. 24 and present her chosen write-up to the Senate at their subsequent weekly meeting.

Any violation of any of these sanctions and their deadlines by Sen. Martinez would be deemed impeachable conduct in the eyes of the Judicial Board and allow the Senate to hold a second impeachment vote.

Chief Justice Whitmore says he stands by the Judicial Board’s ruling.

“The only thing that the Judicial Board should seek to accomplish is providing a fair ruling when called upon, and I believe we did that in this case,” Whitmore said.  

Whitmore also believes that the Judicial Board’s ruling fulfills ASLMU’s value of the democratic process and the board’s role as a check of power.

“The Senate chose to impeach Sen. Martinez, but also gave the Judicial Board [the] power to overturn impeachments that do not meet the standards that they set,” Whitmore said. “Just like the real U.S. Judicial system, the Judicial Board should not, and cannot reflect public opinion. Its job is to make sure that the existing rules are followed.”

Read the Judicial Board’s full opinion on ASLMU’s LEO page.

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