Editor's note: An earlier version of this story quoted an unidentified lawyer as saying it appeared that 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Edward R. Becker opposes the creation of a V.I. Supreme Court. This is not so. Becker told the Source he supports the idea of the territory establishing such an appellate court.
Nov. 12, 2002 – Under tight security more than 150 federal judges have been meeting on St. Thomas since Sunday to discuss the operations of the district and appellate systems of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court.
The 3rd Circuit is made up of federal courts in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands. The 3rd Circuit Court is the federal appellate court for the territory.
The annual judicial conference, being held at the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, is a three-day exploration of recent high court decisions, various aspects of the judicial process, and the roles played by different kinds of judges.
Panels addressed the concerns of magistrate, bankruptcy, district and circuit court judges. On alternate years, the conference is open to both lawyers and judges, according to coordinator Theresa Burnett, but this year's gathering is for judges only, although the agenda includes a panel on attorneys doing business in the federal courts.
Burnett said the judges-only format has provided a forum for the judges to discuss professional issues candidly. "It's part of their job as federal judge" to so, she added.
Lawyers and judges did have a chance to mingle at Sunday's opening-day banquet, where Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter gave welcoming addresses.
District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore of St. Thomas and 3rd Circuit Chief Judge Edward R. Becker said afterward that there was brief mention during the conference of the idea of the territory establishing a Virgin Islands Supreme Court.
On Sunday and Monday, judges and magistrates took part in presentations on such topics as ethics, the conduct of juries, proceedings that involve testimony by expert witnesses, and a review of federal sentencing guidelines. There was also a Monday morning session on administration of the death penalty within the 3rd Circuit. Delaware is the only one of the four entities in the 3rd Circuit actively imposing capital punishment.
The conference was scheduled to wrap up Tuesday with a business meeting for bankruptcy judges and a discussion of effective management within the bankruptcy court.
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