Last week, SA’s Judicial Council affected several changes into their procedure laws. These changes follow last semester’s proposed alterations to confidentiality rules. The new rules would also require justices to attend one cabinet and one senate meeting per semester.
The process of making changes to judicial procedures started last semester. The Senate, in November of 2015, recommended that the judicial council make several changes to their standard procedure before hearing cases in the spring. October 2008 was the last time procedures had been updated.
Confidentiality was most affected by these changes. According to the new rules, information on a judicial decision can be released if several conditions are met. Information about a case can only be released if all of those involved agree to release the information. If everyone don’t agree, the Chief Justice can then decide what information to release. If some parties don’t agree to release the case information, then the person who submitted the request will be given a reason as to why. If releasing the information would violate the 1974 Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the request will be denied.
Previously, all judicial documents were kept closed. Under this rule, only the outcome of the decision could be shared with those not involved in the case. The details behind the outcome, such as the specific opinion of the judges, could not previously be shared. Under this new rule, the opinions can be, if the conditions are met.
Loosening confidentiality reflects SA’s senate opinion that not all decisions need to be confidential. Adding transparency, in some cases, will allow understanding into rulings which can affect students or groups.
One minor change to the proceedings is that petitions to be heard by the council are to be filed by email, to the SA secretary and Chief Justice. Any supporting documents are to go to the Chief Justice. This change was because electronic communication is much faster and convenient than submitting hard copies, as was previously done.