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Willocks Sworn In as Superior Court Judge

V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks with wife Yvette Stanley Willocks, son Harold Alexander and daughter Saida after Willocks' swearing-in ceremony Friday.Well known St. Croix author, educator and long-time Chief Territorial Public Defender Harold Willocks took the oath of office and formally entered the ranks of U.S.V.I. Superior Court judges Friday.

A courtroom at the H.R. Amphlett Leader Justice Complex overflowed with friends, family and dignitaries as Supreme Court Chief Justice Rhys Hodge administered the oath of office to Willocks. A second courtroom filled up next door as well, with those who could not squeeze into the ceremony relegated to watching via teleconference.

Gov. John deJongh, who nominated Willocks last August, was among those present to speak words of praise and tell stories about Willocks.

"I got to know Mr. Willocks not because of his work in the courts but because I enjoyed reading his books," deJongh said. Willocks has authored several books. His most often cited work is "The Umbilical Cord," a history of the U.S. Virgin Islands from pre-Columbian times to the present that is used as a text in history classes at the University of the Virgin Islands.

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Independence, strength and intellectual excellence were some of the traits he looked for in a judicial nominee, deJongh said.

"We need judges to make very tough decisions," he said. The territory’s judges are role models and are the "best educated members of our community," he said. "We look to them to look through to the truth and then make the best decision."

After the oath, Willocks thanked friends, family, supporters and deJongh. He said his biggest supporter was his brother Gregory, who could not be there because of a serious illness.

"He is in the greatest battle of life, but I know he is winning the battle,” Willocks said, asking that people keep his brother in their prayers. The road ahead as a judge will not be easy, Willocks said.

"I know there will be a lot of soul searching to reach the right decision," he said.

Willocks got the audience in stitches several times with jokes about his nomination, about the social set of weekend barbecuing at Gallows Bay and about some of his childhood friends in the audience.

"I’d like to thank Gov. deJongh, though the jury is still out on whether it was a wise one," he joked. "But I think people will be reassured once I send a few people to jail – especially an attorney or two," he joked, cracking up the room.

Willocks was born in Christiansted, St. Croix, to Ebenezer and Claudia Willocks. He attended public school, graduating from St. Croix Central High in 1975. Enrolling in Morgan Statute University in Baltimore, Md., in the spring of 1976, he earned his bachelor’s two years later in 1978. In 1979, Willocks began graduate school at Howard University, first in political science, then changing to law, but he interrupted his studies and returned home for two years. Later, he resumed law school at Antioch School of Law, receiving his juris doctorate in 1987. From 1978 to 1985, Willocks taught at Elena Christian and Arthur Richards junior high schools, then at Central; his alma mater. In 1987, Willocks was briefly a local prosecutor before becoming a territorial public defender, handling the defense for hundreds of indigent accused offenders. After only four years, he ascended to chief public defender; a post he has held ever since. In late August 2009, Gov. John deJongh nominated Willocks to the Superior Court and in November the V.I. Legislature confirmed the nomination.

Friday’s ceremony for Willocks was the second investiture of a U.S.V.I. Superior Court judge this week. On Wednesday, Adam Christian, formerly deJongh’s chief legal counsel, was sworn in on St. Thomas. Born on St. Thomas to parents from St. Croix, Christian attended All Saints Cathedral School for eighth ninth grade and finished high school in South Kent Connecticut. He received a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Virginia in 1987 and a law degree from Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, in 1990, at age 23. While in law school, he clerked for Virgin Islands judges for three summers, including two as clerk for Judge Ive Swan. He passed the Texas bar in 1990, then returned to the Virgin Islands in 1991, passing the bar in the territory in 1992 and working in private practice until being called into government service by deJongh in fall of 2006.

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