Superior Court of the Virgin Islands
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Rules Governing the
Superior Court of the Virgin Islands

Rule 135. New trial

The court may grant a new trial to a defendant if required in the interest of justice. The court may vacate the judgment if entered, take additional testimony and direct the entry of a new judgment. A motion for a new trial based on the ground of newly discovered evidence may be made only before, or within two years after, final judgment. A motion for a new trial based on other grounds shall be made within 10 days after finding of guilty, or within such further time as the court may fix during the 10-day period. In no event shall this rule be construed to limit the right of a defendant to apply to the court for a new trial on the ground of fraud or lack of jurisdiction.--May 28, 1955.

Case Notes

Newly discovered evidence

Role of court

Newly discovered evidence

Territorial Court defendant seeking new trial on ground of newly discovered evidence must satisfy a five-part test: (1) motion must allege facts from which court may infer diligence on part of movant; (2) evidence must indeed be newly discovered, meaning discovered since trial; (3) evidence must not be merely cumulative or impeaching; (4) evidence must be material to issues involved; and (5) evidence must be of such probative value, and of such nature, that it would probably produce an acquittal if presented at new trial. Government of V.I. v. Sampson, D.C.V.I. 2000, 42 V.I. 247, 94 F. Supp. 2d 639.

Defendant was not entitled to new trial based on juror's alleged failure to disclose that he was a peace officer, since juror's job title and job description were disclosed in questionnaire available to defendant both before and during jury voir dire, and venire panel was never asked whether any of them were currently employed by any law enforcement agency or by government. Government of V.I. v. Sampson, D.C.V.I. 2000, 42 V.I. 247, 94 F. Supp. 2d 639.

Courts will consider the merit of a motion for a new trial due to newly discovered evidence premised on an allegation of jury misconduct; the newly discovered evidence which will support a motion for a new trial is not limited to evidence which is likely to lead to an acquittal. The evidence must have been discovered since the end of the trial, and the failure to discover this information at an earlier time must not be the result of a lack of diligence. Government of V.I. v. Sampson, Terr. Ct. St. C. 1997, 36 V.I. 31.

If a motion for a new trial is based on newly discovered evidence, the court must decide whether there is a reasonable probability that the result would have been different had the evidence been disclosed; however, the mere possibility that an undisclosed item of information might have helped the defense, or might have affected the outcome of the trial is insufficient. Government of V.I. v. Davis, Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1997, 35 V.I. 72.

Role of court

In passing on a motion for a new trial, the court's role is to weigh the evidence rather than examine its sufficiency and in doing so may weigh the credibility of witnesses. Government of V.I. v. Davis, Terr. Ct. St. T. and St. J. 1997, 35 V.I. 72.

Cited

Cited in Government of V.I. v. Kidd, D.C.V.I. 1999, 42 V.I. 153, 79 F. Supp. 2d 566; 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).

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