The present day Superior Court of the Virgin Islands is a twenty-first century Court, with
a framework that was established more than half a century ago. The excellent state of our
judiciary is a testament to the many Judges
and court personnel who have continued to be the
backbone of justice in the territory.
How did this modern Superior Court come into being? Today’s Court evolved from three
Police Courts in three major cities: the Police Court of Frederiksted, the Police
Court of Christiansted, and the Police Court of Charlotte Amalie. These Courts
existed under the 1921 Codes of St. Thomas and St. John, and St. Croix.
On July 22, 1954, the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands was amended and
approved. Section 21 of that Act vested judicial power in a court of record called
the District Court of the Virgin Islands
, and in any lower courts established by
local law. The three Police Courts were then abolished and two municipal courts
were established: one for St. Thomas and St. John and one for St. Croix.
After a decade of this judicial structure, the make-up of the local judiciary
changed again. On March 1, 1965, the two municipal courts were combined into a
single court called the Municipal Court of the Virgin Islands.
On September 9, 1976 the Legislature of the Virgin Islands
established the forerunner
of today’s Superior Court of the Virgin Islands in accord with Act. No. 3876 (§ 5,
Sess. L. 1976, p. 17.) The Municipal Court of the Virgin Islands’ name was changed
to the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands. Almost three decades later, the
Territorial Court gained a substantial amount of judicial autonomy. This was
authorized by the 1984 amendments to the Revised Organic Act of 1954 and triggered
by local enactments by the Legislature as well as the Governor of the Virgin Islands.
On October 1, 1991, the Territorial Court obtained jurisdiction over all local
civil actions in accordance with 4 V.I. Code Ann. § 76(a). Later, on January 1,
1994, pursuant to Act 5890, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands granted expanded
jurisdiction in criminal matters to the Territorial Court.
On October 29, 2004, the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands’ name was officially
changed to the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands by means of Bill No. 25-0213,
which also established a Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands