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Davis, California

Saturday, February 24, 2024

ASUCD Chief Justice resigns during impeachment

Current Chief Justice Rudy Ornelas is resigning from office in the midst of being indicted by members of the ASUCD Senate for allegations pertaining to remaining impartial in office.

Ornelas gave his letter of resignation to ASUCD President Adam Thongsavat stating that he would resign by Nov. 23 or when Thongsavat had found a replacement Chief Justice. In his letter Ornelas stated that the current slate process politics is a major factor in his resignation.

“The allegations against Rudy have nothing to do with the slate process or politics, instead I think it’s about his own actions,” said ASUCD President Adam Thongsavat. “Rudy came from a very slate oriented background as a former member of LEAD which is no longer a party.”

Ornelas was appointed under the former ASUCD President Jack Zwald while working as an aid for the president. He was given the appointment on Zwald’s last day in office.

“I don’t see a problem with it if people are ethical and they have a solid understanding about what the court does and what their role is,” Thongsavat said.

The resignation comes after controversy related to the Chief Justice’s involvement in the recent senate campaign.

“According to certain people, I was campaigning for a senator,” said Chief Justice Rudy Ornelas. “I’ve had no bearing at all in the last election.”

According to Ornelas, the only connection that he had with the student that was running for office was that they were in the same club together.

Ornelas stated that when he was working for former President Zwald there were certain senators in opposition to the executive branch and some of these senators took part in Ornelas’ current indictment.

“I decided to resign after the impeachment attempt by the senate because I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done,” Ornelas said. “The Senate completely ignored us on different rulings.”

Senator Rebecca Sterling was one of the Senators who advocated for Ornelas’ impeachment.

“There were a lot of concerns about the Chief Justice, if he was abiding by the rules, if he was remaining impartial and not taking a stance,” she said. “…There were also concerns that he did not properly understand the by-laws.”

When a non-elected official is being impeached, first the Internal Affairs Commission has a closed session hearing, and then another closed session hearing comes before the Senate.

“They had no proof of anything, it was all ‘he said, she said’,” Ornelas said. “They were dead set on removing me. I felt that if I wanted the court to advance in any way, shape or form that I would have to step down.”

The Chief Justice position is appointed by the president and then confirmed by the Senate.

“I have nothing against Rudy, I have no personal qualms. I think he works hard, but I think the resignation speaks for itself. I’m always sad when these things have to happen,”  Thongsavat said.

MAX RUSSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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