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HomeNewsArchivesNO REAPPOINTMENT YET FOR FEDERAL JUDGE MOORE

NO REAPPOINTMENT YET FOR FEDERAL JUDGE MOORE

July 3, 2002 – For reasons unclear, the White House has not yet renominated U.S. District Judge Thomas K. Moore to a second 10-year term on St. Thomas although his first term expired June 30.
Moore has drawn attention to himself recently for his comments in two cases. One has to do with not being able to vote in federal elections; the other, with the Immigration and Naturalization Service maintaining checkpoints for passengers traveling directly from one U.S. jurisdiction to another. Moore's written opinions criticized what many Virgin Islanders see as their inferior status in the eyes of the federal government despite their American citizenship.
A Department of Justice spokesperson in Washington confirmed to the Source Monday that nothing had come through from the White House about the federal judgeship allocated to St. Thomas.
The reappointment of Moore, or the appointment by the president of someone else to the post, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Until then, Moore will continue to sit on the local federal bench.
The 64-year-old Moore, a Republican, was off island and unavailable for comment.
But some members of the close-knit Virgin Islands legal community of some 335 lawyers were surprisingly free with their comments –on the condition of anonymity.
In general, the lawyers who spoke to the Source praised Moore as a good, thoughtful judge.
But a few thought Moore's reappointment might be in trouble. Others took the view the White House and the Justice Department will, in their own good time, send his name to the Senate for reconfirmation.
Two attorneys said flatly the nomination had been offered to St. Thomas lawyer Adriane J. Dudley, but that she had declined and affirmed her support for Moore. Dudley could not be reached for comment. A decade ago there were persistent reports she had been offered the St. Thomas federal judgeship, had tentatively accepted, but then had withdrawn her name from consideration.
A few lawyers speculated that Moore had run afoul of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the Philadelphia federal court that has jurisdiction over the Virgin Islands District Court. The Third Circuit has overturned Moore several times.
But other local lawyers were unwilling to believe the Philadelphia appeals court judges had that much influence over White House judicial appointments.
A few attorneys criticized Moore's insistence on civility among lawyers appearing before him. Most others said they respected him for it.
As is customary in many areas of the United States when a federal judgeship is at stake, the Virgin Islands Bar Association polled its members on Moore's qualifications. The deadline for submission of the questionnaires was June 27.
The poll was conducted by the Judicial Committee of the Bar Association. Neither the committee chair, St. Thomas lawyer Joel Holt, nor the Bar Association president, Tom Bolt, was available for comment.
The local attorneys who insisted that Moore will eventually be renominated are, almost without exception, veterans who have seen federal judges come and go in the Virgin Islands. They contended the unusual nature of this judgeship — for 10 years instead of the lifetime tenure granted almost all other federal judges — makes it a low priority for the White House.
"The Virgin Islands is at the bottom of the line when it comes to the nomination of federal judges," one lawyer said. "I can remember when a federal judgeship here was vacant for a year and a half before Washington finally acted."
Moore himself criticized the 10-year term as "double discrimination" in one of the two recent cases that brought him public attention.
He noted that Congress in 1966 granted lifetime tenure to federal judges in Puerto Rico.
"This is double discrimination," Moore wrote, "because Congress not only treats the Virgin Islands differently from all the states but also treats it differently from our fellow unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico, a differing treatment for which there is no conceivable rational basis." Thus, he said, federal judges in the Virgin Islands are deprived of "the guarantees of judicial independence."
Moore wrote those words in a June 18 decision suppressing the confession of an illegal alien, Camille Pollard, who was detained at the St. Thomas airport at the federal immigration checkpoint for departing passengers.
Pollard's detention was unconstitutional, Moore ruled, and therefore her subsequent confession was illegally obtained.
Some observers have seized upon one sentence in Moore's discussion of the Pollard case as a hint as to how he will rule in the other case, which has attracted even more attention.
In that case, Krim Ballentine of St. Thomas is suing the federal government for the right to vote for president and to have voting representation in Congress.
Moore is known to share Ballentine's views.
"In its motion to dismiss, the United States would reject as 'specious' the plaintiff's [Ballentine's] efforts to question the inferior and unequal nature of United States citizenship in the Virgin Islands," Moore wrote on Oct. 15 of last year. "I am not willing to override so cavalierly the plaintiff's sensibilities, for I share them."
But in his June 18 decision in the Pollard case, Moore wrote that "this federal trial court is bound by the view of the Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit…"
"That's good," a local attorney quipped. "Otherwise, he'd have to rule in the Ballentine case that the U.S. Constitution is unconstitutional."

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