By Hannah Neumann
The McCahill, Hardy v. Kinghorn hearing continued Wednesday, in courtroom 127 of the Law School, as one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, sophomore Elliott Riches, proceeded by calling senior Forrest Davis III to the witness stand.
The hearing, which began Tuesday evening, involves senators Woodinville, Wash., senior Gannon McCahill and San Antonio junior Chase Hardy, who filed suit against Katy junior Lawren Kinghorn, internal vice president, for failing to maintain positional duties.
In Tuesday’s opening statements, Riches said Kinghorn was exercising double standards in student government, and the defendant said the plaintiffs’ case was simply an act of retaliation because of their concealed handgun bill not passing and anger over McCahill’s impeachment trials.
Davis said he believed only certain people were being targeted by the Senator Executive Council in regards to excessive absences and lack of office hours, and that those friendly with the decision makers were granted forgiveness for these issues, while others were brought before the SEC.
“I could tell things were not going well and I was being unfairly pressured,” Davis said. “That is why I resigned.”
He said he felt he was being targeted because he had voted in favor of the concealed carry bill, as he had been brought before the court with only one missing office hour, while others with excessive absences were ignored.
Mandeville, La., senior E.J. Valentine, a current senator, said throughout his time as senator he had skipped numerous meetings, accumulated more than the appropriate amount of absences and had very little to do with SEC. Valentine was brought before the SEC but was not asked to resign.
He voted against the concealed carry bill, even though the plaintiffs’, his fellow fraternity brothers, had expressed to him their extreme support of the bill and the importance of its passing.
Frisco junior James Porter took the stand with details on McCahill’s initial SEC hearing in November, in which the SEC voted for McCahill’s resignation. Porter said during the time of voting, they were under the impression that McCahill had over 10 absences, and it wasn’t until after the decision and a conversation with McCahill that a numerical mistake was brought to light.
“[McCahill] said ‘whoa whoa whoa, that is more than inaccurate,’” Porter said. It was then brought to his and the SEC’s attention that McCahill, in fact, only had obtained eight absences.
There was confusion throughout the hearing about whether one missing office was equivalent to one absence, as it had been implemented in McCahill’s case, but was not formally stated in the Senate bylaws.
McCahill was the last witness to take the stand, citing the email exchange between himself and Kinghorn in which she initially asked McCahill for his resignation.
“I asked why I was being asked to resign and the response was that I had accumulated 10 unexcused absences in that semester,” McCahill said.
He then said he informed Kinghorn that he actually had only accumulated eight absences, and she recognized a clerical error in the recording of attendance.
McCahill was granted a second hearing, but it was not within the 48-hour time-frame notice, and said he could not attend, asking for a rescheduling. McCahill said he was not granted another hearing to allow the SEC a re-vote on his status, and he did not agree to resign.
McCahill said he later attended an impeachment hearing where he was not asked to resign.
Fair Oaks Ranch junior Alex Oestreich, co-counsel for the defendant, began his cross-examination.
“Eight absences is exactly doubled the amount you’re allowed to have, correct?” he asked.
McCahill said the statement referred to unexcused absences, and while the SEC considered the absences unexcused, he did not agree with their reasoning and after providing documentation, it was implied to him that some would be excused.
Oestreich reinstated the fact brought to light earlier in the hearing that Kinghorn was not allowed to vote on the matter at the time, and simply had the duty of drafting the resignation request and SEC hearing letter, suggesting that Kinghorn could not have influenced McCahill’s impeachment in any way.
Oestreich addressed the allegations by the plaintiffs that McCahill’s impeachment hearing was conducted improperly. He asked if McCahill was aware of the motion that was made to change order of the meeting, and that it was not made by kinghorn.
McCahill said Kinghorn did not make the motion, but recognized it.
Coll questioned McCahill on his absences, referring to text messages between McCahill and his chair at the time. He noted that one of McCahill’s absences being excused was contingent on the agreement that McCahill would send an Email detailing his reasoning, which he failed to do. McCahill said he forgot to send it, but believed the absence would be excused regardless.
McCahill was questioned by the justices on the reasons for his absences and asked to detail his feelings of unfair treatment at the hands of the SEC. McCahill referenced the forgiveness and small sanction that Valentine had received after his hearing for numerous absences. McCahill then said he believed he would receive similar or slightly more severe consequences, as opposed to a resignation request.
McCahill said he believed the scrutiny he has faced from the SEC, and particularly Kinghorn, began after his authoring and introduction of the concealed carry bill.
Oestreich told the court that the plaintiff hadn’t laid foundation to demonstrate that Kinghorn purposefully, or with bias, pointed out McCahill and said the plaintiff failed to meet allegations in their complaint.
The defense motioned for the court to reach a verdict, as they believed the plaintiff had failed to provide sufficient evidence for the case.
The court recognized the motion, followed by Riches detailing parts of the testimony pointing to Kinghorn’s bias. The court denied the motion.
At the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing, Coll asked the plaintiffs and defendant to agree to waive their protection and allowing photos to be taken and published, and neither party posed objections.
Roswell, N.M., junior Cody Coll serves as the Chief Justice, with Daniel Pellegrin as Deputy Chief Justice. Associate Justices Nathan Hall, Courtney Davis, William Stover, Josh Conatser and Moriah Speciale also served on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s bench.
The court returned from recess, denying the motion, stating they did not feel comfortable closing at the time for three reasons; The plaintiff had not yet proved the case beyond the point that they would feel comfortable closing, they wished to hear the defense’s discovery in witness testimony and due to the rebuttal phase allowed at the end of the defense’s case in chief.
Coll said all three reasons may have significant impact on the court’s ruling in the case.
The court adjourned for the evening, as the plaintiff had rested their case in chief.
The hearing will continue Monday, with the location and time to be announced, to hear the defense’s case in chief.