AMS President ‘took no part in decision to terminate’ former Judicial Affairs Manager

Miguel Martinez cleared of allegations through external investigation

President Miguel Martinez addresses Assembly.
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A $15,000 external investigation has cleared AMS President Miguel Martinez of multiple allegations, including potential involvement in the termination of former Judicial Affairs Manager Brandon Tyrrell.

 
The investigation was conducted by John Curtis, an Ontario-based workplace investigation and conflict mediator. Curtis compiled a report of his conclusions, which was provided to AMS Assembly members on Thursday night.
 
Engineering Society President Carson Cook said the report’s conclusion “in no way devalues the money” the AMS Board of Directors spent on the investigation in efforts to encourage Society transparency.
 
Tyrrell was fired after investigating President Martinez last November. He alleged Martinez interfered with his investigation and was involved in his termination, prompting the AMS to pass an external investigation into the allegations. 
 
In the executive summary of his findings, Curtis wrote he found Tyrrell to be an “unreliable witness because he was not truthful when confronted with the allegation that he had intentionally misled” Munro Watters, vice-president of university affairs.
 
Curtis wrote after Tyrrell sent a “detailed account” of his investigation into Martinez to The Journal, he notified Watters The Journal wanted to interview him, adding that when Watters asked why, Tyrrell told her he wasn’t sure. 
 
“On the face of it, this seemed highly unlikely after the bombshell of confidential information he had just sent to them,” Curtis wrote. “In my interview with him, [Tyrrell] claimed he was working on more than one story with them.”
 
Curtis confirmed with The Journal Editors in Chief this was not true, according to the report. 
 
The investigation mandated Curtis to address five allegations.
 
The first allegation required the investigator to determine whether Tyrrell breached his employment contract and/or the Non-Academic Misconduct (NAM) Agency Agreement between the AMS and the University in disclosing confidential information to The Journal.
 
In response, Curtis reported Tyrrell committed a breach of confidentiality and his non-disclosure agreement by providing confidential information to The Journal
 
“While I find [Tyrrell] acted contrary to his obligations under these agreements, I find that he did not do so out of malice or for any personal gain,” Curtis wrote in the report.
 
Curtis added “it is worth noting” that Tyrrell made the decision to disclose confidential information to The Journal in reliance on Chapter XII, Article 2 section 2A of the Judicial Policy and Procedures which permits disclosure of confidential information if “harm will take place to an individual or group in the future.”
 
“There was absolutely no evidence of any harm that would have come to any individual or group that could be prevented” by the disclosure, according to Curtis. 
 
He also wrote Tyrrell held a “genuine, although misguided and incorrect belief” that Martinez had abused his position as AMS President to obtain a “favourable settlement agreement” with the University Office of Student Conduct.
 
Curtis wrote he found “absolutely no abuse of power” by Martinez.  
 
Curtis was also mandated to determine whether Martinez was involved in the decision to terminate Tyrrell following the disclosure. 
 
He found Martinez “took no part in the decision to terminate” Tyrrell. 
 
“The AMS had virtually no practical choice in the matter,” Curtis wrote, adding the decision to terminate Tyrrell was made by Watters in consultation with others “including Liam Tharp [Vice-President of Operations], Joe Palubiski [Director of Human Resources], and Lyn Parry [General Manager].”
 
Curtis was mandated to determine whether Martinez “egregiously” interfered with the Policy Infringement Protocol (PIP) investigation that was initiated by Tyrrell. 
 
“Not only did [Martinez] not interfere “egregiously” in the PIP investigation, he did not interfere at all,” he wrote.
Curtis was additionally mandated to determine whether Martinez pressured AMS Secretary Bronwyn Woolhouse to take over Tyrrell’s investigation into him. 
 
“Given the ill-conceived nature of the investigation, it was to be expected that [Martinez] would raise concerns about the investigation with other officials of the AMS who play a role in the AMS Judicial System,” Curtis wrote. 
 
He added Tyrrell was “way off course and the only options [Martinez] had were to raise his concerns with those who had an ability to address his concerns.”
 
Curtis wrote when Martinez approached Woolhouse, “it was based on his assessment that [Tyrrell] may have a serious bias against him and/or a conflict of interest.”
 
“Based on my investigation, it is clear to me that those concerns were legitimate.” 
 
Finally, Curtis was mandated to determine whether Martinez pressured Seema Sidhu, the Judicial Committee Chair, to recuse herself from the PIP investigation.
 
Curtis found Martinez was following policy when he contacted Seema Sidhu, and “the first thing they both agreed on was that she had a conflict and could not act as Chair.”
 
“In my interview with Ms. Sidhu, it was clear to me that there had never been a moment of her feeling pressure,” Curtis wrote. “As soon as she grasped the situation when she met with [Martinez], she concluded that she would need to recuse herself and she was absolutely correct in this assessment.”
 
He added Martinez’s concern that Sidhu would have to recuse herself was “right and fair-minded” as her bias would have been in his favour.  
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Corrections

March 29, 2019

This article mischaracterized the investigation's funding. While Assembly voted in its favour, the Board of Directors funded the investigation.

The Journal regrets the error.

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