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2012 Unpublished Opinions
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December 6, 2012
S. Ct. Crim. No. 2012-0002
William T. Gibbons v. People of the Virgin Islands
      In an appeal by a defendant who pled guilty to a charge for simple possession of a controlled substance as a first offender, but objected to the Superior Court judge’s invocation of 20 V.I.C. § 378(a) to suspend his driver’s license for two years, the Superior Court clearly erred when it applied that provision. As determined in Rohn v. People, S. Ct. Crim. No. 2011-0087 (V.I. Nov. 27, 2012), based on the plain meaning of the applicable statutes, the Legislature did not intend for 20 V.I.C. § 378(a) to apply to defendants who receive probationary treatment pursuant to 19 V.I.C. § 607(b)(1). Although the Superior Court did not have the benefit of the Rohn decision to guide it in sentencing this defendant, the resulting sentence in nevertheless illegal and must be corrected. Accordingly, that portion of the January 27, 2012 Judgment and Sentence that revokes the defendant’s driving privileges for two years is reversed.
      Download Opinion  (98 kb)

October 26, 2012
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2012-0059
In re Suspension of Kenth Rogers
      In an appeal by an attorney from an adverse decision of the Ethics and Grievance Committee of the Virgin Islands Bar Association, as well as the Committee’s petition for this Court to approve its recommended sanctions, the Committee’s petition is granted, as modified. Clear and convincing evidence exists that the attorney violated Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2(a), 1.4(a), 1.5(a) and 8.1(b). He breached some of the most important duties owed to the client and to the legal profession itself, his breach was intentional, and his actions resulted in an actual monetary loss. The attorney shall be suspended from the practice of law for six months, and ordered to complete six continuing legal education credit hours in the field of legal ethics, in addition to the continuing legal education hours he must complete to satisfy his obligation under Supreme Court Rule 208. Furthermore, the Committee shall publicly reprimand the attorney in a manner consistent with Supreme Court Rule 207.4.3(d). The six month suspension shall become effective in 15 days in order to provide the attorney an opportunity to comply with Supreme Court Rule 207.5.5, including notifying all clients of his suspension and filing motions to withdraw as counsel in all pending matters. Upon expiration of this 15-day period, Disciplinary Counsel shall confer with the attorney to ascertain that all clients, so desiring, have secured new counsel and to determine if any additional action is required to safeguard their interests during his suspension. Upon expiration of the six month period, the attorney may petition for re-instatement in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 203(h).
      Download Opinion  (183 kb)

October 10, 2012
S. Ct. Civ. No.: 2012-0112
In Re: Peter R. Najawicz
      The Court holds that a criminal defendant who appeals from an order denying a pre-trial motion to dismiss an information on grounds that the prosecution violates the prohibition against double jeopardy may obtain a stay of the Superior Court proceedings by initiating an original proceeding for a writ of prohibition. Because the defendant raised a non-frivolous double jeopardy argument in his motion, the Court holds that the Superior Court was required to suspend its proceedings after a notice of appeal had been filed. Accordingly, the Court issues a writ of prohibition enjoining the Nominal Respondent from conducting any further proceedings in the Superior Court until the defendant’s appeal is resolved.
      Download Per Curiam Order  (25 kb)

May 31, 2012
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2010-0098
David Gould v. Mohammed S. Salem, et al.
      In an action to foreclose on mortgaged properties and collect the unpaid balance on a $100,000 note, judgment was entered for the amount due and a Marshal's sale of the property was ordered, but the borrowers then tendered the entire amount of the judgment. They thereafter filed a motion to obtain release of the portion of the funds held in escrow relating to tax liabilities, citing Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) and 60(b)(6), 28 V.I.C. § 538, and the court’s own inherent authority. Different standards of review apply to rulings under those various mechanisms, and different requirements apply to obtain relief. Nevertheless, the Superior Court’s order does not refer to any source of authority, either directly or indirectly, or indicate the court’s reasoning for acting pursuant to such authority under the facts of this case. It cannot be determined on appeal whether the Superior Court abused its discretion or erred in granting the motion to release the funds. Accordingly, this case is remanded to the Superior Court for the court to clarify the basis of its order.
      Download Opinion  (195 kb)

April 30, 2012
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2012-0023
First American Development vs. WestLB AG, Et Al.
      In considering appellant/plaintiff's request for a stay of execution, pending appeal, of a Judgment and Order for Foreclosure issued by the Superior Court on August 24, 2011, the Superior Court's certification thereof pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is deemed to be valid, well-reasoned, and proper, and such certification permits the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands to conclude that it is a final judgment within the meaning of 4 V.I.C. § 32, such that the Court has jurisdiction to consider the request. Regarding the merits of appellant/plaintiff's request, following the standard set by Rule 62 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the issuance of a stay of execution of a judgment, the balancing of the relevant factors favors the issuance of the requested stay, which is granted in this case, conditioned upon the filing of a bond as authorized by V.I.S.CT.R. 8(c).
      Download Per Curiam Order  (38 kb)
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