Christensen Introduces Legislation to Allow Direct Appeals - From the VI Supreme Court to US Supreme Court

Jul 12, 2012 Issues: Virgin Islands Issues

(Washington, DC – July 12, 2012) – Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen announced today that she introduced legislation with 36 co-sponsors to provide for appeals from the Virgin Islands Supreme Court to go to the U.S. Supreme Court instead of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  The bill would put into effect the recommendation of the recently completed report of Judicial Council of the Third Circuit which concluded that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court “has developed sufficient institutional traditions to justify direct review by the Supreme Court of the United States of all final decisions.”

“I was pleased to have participated in the official ceremony last month where the Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the Honorable Theodore A. McKee presented VI Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rhys Hodge with the Five Year Report on the performance of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands which certified that our Supreme Court was ready to have its appeals go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court just like every other State and Territorial Supreme Court,” Congresswoman Christensen said.

When Congress provided Guam and the Virgin Islands with the authority in 1984 to establish local Supreme Courts, the law provided for appeals from those courts to go to their respective Circuit Courts of Appeals for the first fifteen years unless after five years, their respective Court of Appeals reported that the local Supreme Court was ready to have its appeals go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.  A similar report to the one recently presented by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was also issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals for the Supreme Court of Guam five years after it was created in 1992.

“With all that the Virgin Islands Supreme Court has accomplished over the short time that it has been in existence, all Virgin Islanders will look back upon this time with great pride and gratitude for the way in which it laid the foundation for appellate jurisprudence in the territory that is second to none.  In this regard, I want to again congratulate Chief Justice Rhys Hodge and Associate Justices Maria Cabret and Ive Swan on this remarkable accomplishment.  All that is left to be done is for me to work with my colleagues in Congress to pass this bill to allow the appeals from Virgin Islands Supreme Court to operate in the same manner as appeals from all other Supreme Courts in the fifty States and Territories”, Congresswoman Christensen said.

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