Federal Judge Thomas K. Moore has lamented the fact that judges such as himself are appointed for only 10-year terms in the Virgin Islands — instead of for life, as is the case in almost every other jurisdiction under the U.S. flag, including Puerto Rico — thus subjecting them every decade to the whims of politics and politicians.
Proof that Moore is right can be found in the circumstances that have led to the possibility of his not being reappointed for a second 10-year term as judge of the District Court on St. Thomas.
The V.I. Bar Association has given Moore, in the words of its president Tom Bolt, "a very favorable recommendation." The St. Thomas/St. John District Committee of the Republican Party voted "unanimously" to send a letter to the deputy counsel to President Bush recommending that Moore, a Republican, be "continued in his position as federal judge for the territory."
However, Holland Redfield, vice president of Innovative Communication Corp. and ofttimes spokesman for the companies which are solely owned by his boss, Jeffrey Prosser, just happens also to be the chair of the USVI Bush Leadership Team in the Virgin Islands. Redfield has recommended to President Bush that anybody but Moore be appointed to the bench and — guess what? — it looks like Redfield rules.
It doesn't seem to matter what Redfield's Republican Territorial Committee colleagues think. It doesn't seem to matter what the V. I. Bar Association thinks. In fact, it doesn't even seem to matter what the senior George Bush, who as President 10 years ago appointed Moore to his first term on the federal bench, thinks.
One man who is the mouthpiece for another man who already has proven to have far too much power in the Virgin Islands is calling the shots on who shall serve as a federal judge in our islands.
Why? Well, consider this:
First, Moore ruled against Mr. Prosser in a highly charged, highly expensive divorce case.
Second, Moore put Mr. Prosser's good friend and convicted felon Ann Abramson behind bars. And, to his credit, given the blatant white-collar crime and public corruption in the Virgin Islands, Moore was adamant and vocal about it.
Is this — or whatever else Mr. Prosser has against the judge — enough to try to get Moore removed from a post where he has served for10 years and served well, according to his law profession colleagues?
It looks like it to us.
How could this happen? As chair of the Bush Leadership Team, Redfield has enormous influence, particularly since few people in Washington know or care much about what goes on in this tiny little territory where we don't even vote for president — ironically, something else Moore continues to ruminate on, relative to a constitutional challenge case brought recently by Krim Ballentine.
Moore is a thinking man and a fair man who has lived in these Virgin Islands for 30 years. In his position as District Court judge, he has impressed us with his well-thought-out opinions and his commitment to the stature of these islands and islanders.
We grew up believing our judges should be as far above the capriciousness of politics as possible, and yet we watch as one man appears, on a whim, to be naming who the next District Court judge on St. Thomas won't be.
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