Superior Court of the Virgin Islands
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Superior Court of the Virgin Islands

Rule 7. Practice in the Territorial Court

The practice and procedure in the Territorial Court shall be governed by the Rules of the Territorial Court and, to the extent not inconsistent therewith, by the Rules of the District Court, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence.--Amended Sept. 13, 1975; Oct. 14, 1994, eff. Nov. 16, 1994.

Case Notes

Generally

Arraignments

Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Motions

Speedy Trial Act

Time for appeal

Generally

This rule does not mandate verbatim adoption of the practice and procedure of the District Court. Government of the Virgin Islands v. Quetel, Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1982, 18 V.I. 145.

Arraignments

Section 26 of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands, 48 U.S.C.S. '' 1541 et seq., 1616, remains in full force and effect; thus, in order to have exercised his right to a jury trial in the Virgin Islands, defendant must have demanded one; further, pursuant to V.I. Terr. Ct. R. 7 and LRCr 23.1, he must have demanded one at the time of arraignment, which he failed to do. Government of the Virgin Islands v. Boynes, 2003 V.I. LEXIS 5, 45 V.I. 195 (Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. Apr. 9, 2003).

Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act

While Juvenile Proceedings in District Court under the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, 18 U.S.C. ' 5031 et seq., and those in Territorial Court under local law are appropriately considered "like causes" under this rule, which provides that practice and procedure in the Territorial Court conform as nearly as may be to that in District Court in like causes, time limitation of federal act applying to juvenile proceedings in District Court--a requirement that juvenile in detention pending trial be brought to trial within thirty days of beginning of detention, absent certain circumstances--would not apply to juvenile proceedings in Territorial Court since juveniles processed in Territorial Court are charged with violating only Virgin Islands statutes and Plan for Disposition of Criminal Cases, under which federal act applies to juvenile proceedings in District Court, expressly provides that the Act shall not apply to juvenile being processed for offenses which are violations of Virgin Islands statutes. In re Marvin A., Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1980, 17 V.I. 102.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Time limits contained in federal procedural rule applied to action in Territorial Court, and therefore Court would not reconsider its denial, as untimely, of plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees under local statute. Kansas Packing Co. v. Lavilla, Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1998, 39 V.I. 71.

Although territorial court is not a federal court it must conform to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure where there is no local rule to the contrary. Investigations Unlimited v. All American Holding Corp., Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1979, 16 V.I. 524.

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Federal rules of criminal procedure could not govern criminal proceedings in Territorial Court, since its application would diminish substantive power of executive branch to prosecute by requiring leave of Territorial Court in order to dismiss a criminal prosecution; application of rule would also violate constitutionally mandated doctrine of separation of powers. In re Richards, D.C.V.I. 1999, 40 V.I. 161, 52 F. Supp. 2d 522.

Motions

Defendants' motion to strike plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, claiming that plaintiff failed to conform to Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure by filing the original motion directly with the court instead of filing only its notice of motion for summary judgment until defendants were given the opportunity to reply, was denied because there has never been such a filing requirement in the Territorial Court, and this rule does not mandate verbatim adoption of the practice and procedure of the District Court. Citibank, N.A. v. Chammah, 2001 V.I. LEXIS 40, 44 V.I. 85 (Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. Oct. 2, 2001).

Although Territorial Court Rule 7 authorizes the court to deem as conceded the defendant's motions because the plaintiff has not responded to the defendant's motions, it is not alone a sufficient basis for the entry of summary judgment; there must, in addition, be a finding that judgment for the defendant is appropriate. Marcano v. Cowpet Beach Resort, Inc., Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J., (1995), 31 V.I. 99.

Speedy Trial Act

When an express provision of the Speedy Trial Act limits its application to federal offenses, District Court plan adopting the maximum time limits of the act within which a criminal trial must begin is not applicable to criminal proceedings in the Territorial Court. Government of the Virgin Islands v. Quetel, Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1982, 18 V.I. 145.

The adoption and application of the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, 18 U.S.C. ' 4161 et seq., to local cases in the District Court of the Virgin Islands by the Plan for the Disposition of Criminal Cases does not constitute practice and procedure in the District Court of the Virgin Islands, so as to make it applicable to the Territorial Court by virtue of this rule which requires that practice and procedure in the Territorial Court conform as nearly as may be to that in the District Court in like causes. In re Marvin A., Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1980, 17 V.I. 102.

Time for appeal

The Territorial Court's practice of combining a memorandum opinion and order into one document in effect, allows an unlimited time for an appeal of that judgment to be filed. Government of V.I. v. Construction Technicians, D.C.V.I. 1996, 35 V.I. 184, 948 F. Supp. 491.

The trial court's entry of a separate order or judgment required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58 starts the 30-day time period within which an appeal must be filed, and in the absence of such a separate judgment being entered, an appellant is not bound by the 30-day limitation and may timely file an appeal even one year after the separate order was entered. Government of V.I. v. Construction Technicians, D.C.V.I. 1996, 35 V.I. 184, 948 F. Supp. 491.

Cited

Cited in Crowley Am. Transp., Inc. v. Bryan, D.C.V.I. 1999, 41 V.I. 194, 55 F. Supp. 2d 356; Towers Condominium Ass'n v. C.E. Brathwaite & Assocs., Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1999, 40 V.I. 33; Gov't of V.I. v. Williams, 2002 V.I. LEXIS 17, 44 V.I. 181 (Terr. Ct. St. C. 2002); Gov't of V.I. v. Joseph, 2002 V.I. LEXIS 26, 45 V.I. 15 (Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. Sept. 5, 2002); Dysart v. Dysart, 2002 V.I. LEXIS 33, 45 V.I. 118 (Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. Dec. 17, 2002); Nickeo v. Atl. Tele-Network Co., 2003 V.I. LEXIS 1, 45 V.I. 149 (Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. Jan. 14, 2003); In re Horton, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3054, -- V.I. --, -- F. Supp. 2d -- (D.C.V.I. Feb. 5, 2003); Lee v. Gruel, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3152, -- V.I. --, -- F. Supp. 2d -- (D.C.V.I. Feb. 26, 2003); Save Long Bay Coalition v. Virgin Islands Bd. of Land Use Appeals, 2003 V.I. LEXIS 15, 45 V.I. 312 (Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. Oct. 20, 2003).

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