Dec. 31, 2002 – The Virgin Islands Bar Association board of governors has asked Gov. Charles W. Turnbull not only to fill the current vacancy on the Family Court Division bench in Territorial Court for the St. Thomas-St. John district, but to make the position a permanent one.
Judge Ishmael A. Meyers, who most recently had been assigned to Family Court, retired last month after more than 20 years on the Territorial Court bench.
A Tuesday bar association release said that Tom Bolt, association president, has written to Turnbull urging him to nominate a member of the bar "trained and knowledgeable in the practice of family law; someone who has the temperament and interest compatible with the functions of serving our youth and the Family Division of the court."
Currently, the Family Court assignment is rotated among the district's Territorial Court judges. Because this is the case, "often times, a minor will go before several judges during the course of a single proceeding," Bolt said.
He pointed out that the St. Croix district has eliminated this situation by appointing one judge, currently Patricia Steele, to preside permanently in Family Court. "The children of St. Thomas and St. John deserve no less," Bolt wrote.
The bar association is not recommending anyone for the position at this time, Bolt said on Tuesday, but he told the governor the law group would gladly provide a list of qualified candidates.
Territorial Court Presiding Judge Maria Cabret is strongly in favor of a permanently appointed Family Court judge, Bolt noted. At the time Meyers announced his retirement, she said she hoped the governor would nominate someone "devoted to the practice of family law," adding, "We need someone right now."
The courts were closed for the Crucian Festival celebrations on Tuesday and Cabret could not be reached for further comment.
Bolt said he doesn't necessarily agree with the view of some lawyers that presiding over Family Court can be too stressful for one person on a permanent basis. "It depends," he said. "Some people would find criminal litigation too stressful; some attorneys won't handle real estate closings. Many members of the bar find it very rewarding to work in Family Court."
Judicial nominees are proposed by the executive branch and must be approved by the legislative branch. Turnbull is expected to submit his nominee to fill the vacancy created by Meyers' retirement to the 25th Legislature early in January.
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