I was not sure how to respond to Mr. Dawson's article, because it is so fundamentally incorrect. He thinks I am bringing the lawsuit. I am not. The governor brought the lawsuit against the 26th Legislature in Superior Court, seeking a declaratory judgment.
I, as a member of the 26th Legislature, and a licensed attorney with over fifteen years litigation experience, am perfectly capable of defending this matter. I am familiar with all the facts regarding the Supreme Court. I have been involved in promoting the Supreme Court since I was President of the V.I. Bar in 2001. I proposed the legislation placing it on St. Croix, voted for the override of the Governor's veto, and am leading the charge to have it built on St. Croix. I have a vested interest in seeing that this matter is properly briefed and defended in Court. The Office of the Legal Counsel, which is based on St. Thomas, does not have the same interest as I do.
The Complaint was filed on July 28, 2006. The law allows 20 days for a response. Although the Office of Legal Counsel has been aware of the Complaint since that time nothing was done to defend. The complaint alleges a violation of a Congressional Act, so it was a no-brainer to file to remove it from the Superior Court to the District Court.
You stated that the "lawsuit transcends the Revised Organic Act"? What exactly does that mean? Section 2(b) of the Organic Act specifically states that "the judicial power of the Virgin Islands shall be vested in a Court of record designated "the District Court of the Virgin Islands" . . . and in such appellate court and lower local courts as may have been or may hereafter be established by local law." There is no provision placing the Court on St. Thomas. Now that you have the facts, Mr. Dawson, maybe you will realize the wisdom of what I've done. You spent a lot of energy on the wrong issue.
It boils down to this: Should I, as a St. Croix senator, and lead advocate for placing the Supreme Court on St. Croix, step back and allow the (St. Thomas based) Office of Legal Counsel to defend with this matter? I think not.
Sen. Ronald E. Russell
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