‘REST IN PEACE, CHIEF’

The sharp report of a 21-gun salute and the stirring notes of Taps capped the emotion-filled celebration of Judge Almeric Leander Christian’s 80 years of life on Wednesday.
Hundreds of people from throughout the Virgin Islands gathered at St. John’s Anglican Church in Christiansted to view Christian’s body one last time and to remember a man who was "simply amazing."
Malcolm Plaskett, a friend of the Christian family, spoke about how the judge’s high standards rubbed off on the people he met.
"He understood it wasn’t difficult to do the right thing and encouraged others," Plaskett said.
District Court Chief Judge Raymond Finch recited some of the traits now being used to describe the judge: "taskmaster," "no-nonsense judge," "stern" and "kind."
"I will add my own: Intimidating," Finch said. "That’s the only way you can describe what he did to me."
"Rest in peace, Chief," Finch said in farewell.
Despite Christian’s outward appearance of a stern jurist, however, he was quite different privately, according to Plaskett. "Quiet as it was kept, he was the life of the party," Plaskett said.
Marc Biggs said Christian was a founding member of The Gentlemen of Jones, a community service group. Biggs, commissioner of Property and Procurement, said Christian "never lost the common touch."
Among the others in attendance at the services were Gov. Charles Turnbull; former Gov. Alexander Farrelly and his wife, Joan; Territorial Court Judges Ive Swan, Edgar Ross, Maria Cabret, Ishmael Meyers, Patricia Steele, Brenda Hollar and Soraya Diaz; former Territorial Court Judge Henry Feuerzeig and his wife, Penny; U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Moore; U.S. Magistrate Judges Jeffrey Resnick and Geoffrey Barnard and Barnard's wife, Ann; U.S. Attorney James Hurd; V.I. National Guard Adjutant General Gene Romney; former Delegate to Congress Ron DeLugo; University of the Virgin Islands President Orville Kean; former Attorney General Julio Brady; and several V.I. senators and cabinet members.
Both American Eagle and Seaborne Seaplanes put on extra flights to accommodate the large number of persons traveling from St. Thomas to attend the services.
Retired Episcopal Dean Thomas Gibbs, a Christian family friend, said that since the judge’s death, much has been said about the man — much of it true.
"We had among us a towering giant," he said. "We had with us a person who cast the mold of judges. Yet he was a person who could walk with humility among us."
In his letter of condolence to the Christian family, Hurd said the former District Court chief judge never played favorites in the courtroom.
"The fact that he was a former United States attorney did not cause Judge Christian to treat prosecutors with any special favor," Hurd said. "He sometimes chastised us privately, and sometimes he chastised us publicly. However, his was a fatherly type of chastening. We learned and grew from our experiences with him."
When Hurd tried cases in Christian’s court, he said, he was always amazed at the judge’s grasp of complicated legal issues and his photographic memory.
"Judge Christian could, for example, recite word for word portions of a witness’s testimony without the assistance of the court reporter," Hurd said. "He was, in two words, simply amazing."

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