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2019 Published Opinions
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January 17, 2019
S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0008
Shandos Powell v. People of the Virgin Islands
      Convictions for second-degree murder and other offenses are affirmed. Defendant was charged with numerous offenses stemming from a shooting death at the St. Thomas office of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The conviction for second-degree murder required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant killed the victim with malice aforethought. The use of deadly force cannot be justified if the killing is unnecessary to repel an immediate and real threat, or is unnecessarily disproportionate to the threat posed, and in this case the People introduced sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the killing was not justified. The jury could reasonably reject defendant’s testimony and credit other evidence that indicated that he was the initial aggressor or used disproportionate force against the victim. There was also sufficient evidence that the events occurred in a “public place” sufficient to support a conviction for first-degree reckless endangerment. The People proved that the shooting occurred in a place where a discharged gun could easily result in injury to innocent people who regularly pass close by. The Superior Court’s February 4, 2015 judgment and commitment is affirmed.
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January 11, 2019
S. Ct. Civ. No. 2017-0046
Chavez Ali v. Thishelle Hay
      Attempted appeal from the Superior Court’s denial of an emergency motion for return of children, treated by the parties and the Superior Court as an application for a temporary restraining order, and appeal from the imposition of a $150 sanction against counsel for tardiness on the second day of the hearing below, are both dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Generally, temporary restraining orders are not appealable interlocutory orders, and in this case the order denying the TRO motion and continuing the custody petition in this case lacked the necessary indicia of finality for two reasons: (1) the subsequent visitation and custody orders were subject to change; and, (2) the opposing party was never served, nor did she appear at the TRO hearing. With respect to the Superior Court’s order sanctioning counsel $150 for tardiness, the notice of appeal in this case specifies one party (the client) as the party taking the appeal, and only references a single order. Thus, counsel never separately appealed the Superior Court order imposing a sanction against her. Instead, she merely included her argument in the appellate brief she submitted for her client. Raising arguments for a separate appeal of a nonparty for the first time in a party’s appellate brief is impermissible under Rule 4(b) of the Virgin Islands Rules of Appellate Procedure. In light of counsel’s failure to either file a separate appeal or join her appeal with the client’s appeal pursuant to Rule 4(c), she has not presented a proper appeal to consider and – because counsel failed to file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the date that the Superior Court entered the order issuing her sanction – she waived her right to appeal that ruling. V.I. R. APP. P. 5(a)(1). The appeal is therefore dismissed in its entirety.
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