Lawsuits brought in SGA court

By on February 28, 2011

By Elijah Mckenzie

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, lawsuits were filed against the Elevate and Cardinal Direction slates in the Student Government Association court. Chief justice Alex Frommeyer and associate justices Marcus Blakeney, Ben Shepard, Ashley Howarth and Brian Bennet presided over the event.

Billy Garland, current chief of staff of the SGA executive branch, represented Cardinal Direction in the court and brought the first motion against Elevate, stating that Elevate violated SGA regulation when they used a combination of elements from Louisville Athletics throughout their campaign.

The accusation arose when the Elevate slate used a promotional video in their campaign that featured men’s basketball guard, Peyton Siva, saying, “I elevate my game, and you should too.” This endorsement, Garland said, was an endorsement of a student celebrity in his official capacity as an athlete.

Garland also said that the stylized ‘L’ in the Elevate logo was a trademarked image of Louisville Athletics, and as it was used in conjunction with the basketball footage of Siva, it constituted an endorsement from the Athletics Department.

The Elevate Slate, represented in court by Political Science and English graduate student Andrew Carroll, defended the claim, stating that Siva’s endorsement was an endorsement on behalf of a student, not an entire department. Carroll also said that Siva obtained permission from coach Rick Pitino to take part in the video.

Additionally, Carroll said the stylized ‘L’ in the Elevate logo was a generic gothic-style font, chosen by the t-shirt designer that created the promotional shirts for Elevate and was not taken from Louisville Athletics.

After both parties presented their case, the court ruled in favor of Elevate. The decision was made that Siva acted as an individual student in his endorsement of the Elevate slate and that the logo dispute did not have enough merit to warrant a lawsuit.

A second suit was brought from Cardinal Direction stating that Elevate used their Facebook group to communicate to students without prior written consent, inviting them to join the Elevate group.

This motion operated under the precedent that SGA candidates could not solicit campaign materials to students through listserv emails without prior consent. However, election rules did permit Facebook campaigning during the formal campaign period.

Garland offered to bring in a witness to testify against the actions of Elevate, but Cardinal Direction stated that the witness was unable to arrive on time due to an SGA-related meeting. Garland asked the court to wait for the witness to arrive, but the request was denied due to the time constraint of the hearing.

The court ruled in favor of Elevate, saying that the social networking clause in SGA regulation allowed for Facebook campaigning. The court stated that Facebook was a voluntarily open website that did not operate like a school listserv and that no prior regulations existed against promotional activity through Facebook.

The third suit came from Elevate against Cardinal Direction, which stated that when The Province liked Cardinal Direction’s Facebook page, it constituted an official endorsement. Carroll argued that once The Province liked Cardinal Direction on Facebook, all fans of The Province would then be subject to the promotional materials on the Cardinal Direction page.

According to Cardinal Direction, the action was subsequently reversed and the owner of The Province denied any intention of an endorsement. Garland said that without substantial proof that a specific individual made the endorsement, all actions were implied and therefore should be negated.

However, the court ruled in favor of Elevate in their suit because of the decision that any outside support – accepted or not – gave Cardinal Direction an unfair advantage in the election. Frommeyer said that this particular lawsuit was difficult to address because of the changing nature of social networking.  

After the motion was settled, the court decided to dock 1.5% of the total votes from Cardinal Direction in the election.

Academic vice president and presidential candidate, Kurtis Frizzell, walked out of the court upon the announcement of the court’s decision.

The fourth and final lawsuit, brought by Carroll on behalf of Elevate, stated that the claims brought by Cardinal Direction were frivolous and were meant only to discredit the Elevate campaign.

Garland defended his actions and said that the claims were sincere and was meant to address issues surrounding the appropriateness of Elevate’s campaign.

After convening over the matter, the court ruled in favor of Cardinal Direction, stating that there was not enough evidence to accuse the slate of frivolity.

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