ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Sen. Milton Potter, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, and received testimony on Bill No. 34-0076- An Act amending Title 5, subtitle 1, part 1, chapter 3, to grant seniors and the terminally ill preference in civil actions. Additionally, lawmakers voted and approved several measures. All items approved will be forwarded to the Full Body for further consideration.
The measure seeks to grant elderly persons and the terminally ill preference in court proceedings. Furthermore, upon the granting of such a motion for preference for an elderly party, the court shall set the matter for trial, not more than 180 days from that date that the elderly party moves for preference as stated in the bill. The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Janelle Sarauw noted that there is a tremendous backlog of cases in the courts, and it is unfair to the elderly who are waiting. The bill codifies the ability to move for preference based on age and terminal illness. She stated that people should not die while waiting for court proceedings. Senator Potter expressed support for the measure. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am in favor of the intent of this legislation because some of us will be seniors one day and waiting indefinitely for the Judicial System is troubling.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Concurringly, AARP of the Virgin Islands State Director Troy de Chabert-Schuster indicated that civil cases in the Virgin Islands average about five years to resolve. However, the bill seeks to bring unprecedented change to the legal system by streamlining the judicial process and reducing the length of civil proceedings. Despite similar statutes adopted in the State of California and New York, Attorney General Chief Deputy Carol Thomas-Jacobs mentioned that the matter is best left to the judiciary to determine whether the docket and caseload would enable preferential treatment of individuals to pursue civil claims in the local courts. Ultimately, the policymakers voted and approved the measure.
Separately, senators voted favorably for the following:
- Bill No. 34-0066- An Act amending Title 33, Virgin Islands Code, chapter 89 subchapter III, section2541 to allow the Lt. Governor to collect unpaid property taxes and unpaid public sewer fees from the sale of delinquent taxpayerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s real property. Sponsored by: Senators Dwayne M. DeGraff and Franklin D. Johnson. Co-Sponsored by: Senators Novelle E. Francis, Jr. and Marvin A. Blyden
- Bill No. 34-0071- An Act amending Title 28 of the Virgin Islands Code, by adding a chapter 36 to enact The Virgin Islands Timeshare Act. Sponsored by: Senators Kurt A. Vialet and Donna Frett-Gregory
- Bill No. 34-0077- An Act amending Act No. 8365, the Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget, and Act No.8348, the LegislatureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, to restore the 8% reduction in salaries to the employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands and for other related purposes. Sponsored by: Senators Kurt A. Vialet, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Janelle K. Sarauw, Milton E. Potter, Alma Francis Heyliger, Franklin D. Johnson, Franklin D. Johnson, Javan E. James, Sr., Steven D. Payne, Sr., Samuel CarriÃƒÂ³n, Marvin A. Blyden, and Genevieve R. Whitaker
Senators in attendance: Chairman Milton E. Potter, Kurt A. Vialet, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Janelle K. Sarauw, Genevieve R. Whitaker, Franklin D. Johnson, Dwayne M. DeGraff, and Carla J. Joseph.