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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 17, 2024


Molly Morris
In an unusually long nomination consideration process Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee approved the appointment of attorney Audrey Louis Thomas-Francis to the Territorial Court bench, filling the seat left vacant by Judge Soraya Diase, whose term expired May 13.
Thomas-Francis has been an assistant U.S. attorney for the territory for the last 11 years. Endorsing her appointment were her boss, U.S. Attorney James Hurd, and Maria Cabret, recently appointed presiding judge of the Territorial Court.
Before giving their unanimous approval, all 10 lawmakers present addressed their particular judicial concerns, asking Thomas-Francis everything from her views on the death penalty to a question posed by Sen. Judy Gomez, "Tell me, as judge what would your day be like, starting in the morning?" Thomas-Francis said she has "mixed emotions" regarding the death penalty, with which she has come in contact in the U.S. Attorney's office.
Thomas-Francis's first career in the territory was as a teacher. She taught English at then- Wayne Aspinall Junior High School and at the Charlotte Amalie High School. She has provided practical English instruction to police cadets and basic criminal advocacy instruction to Justice Department attorneys. She has chaired the Almeric L. Christian Scholarship Committee. She said she learned "compassion" under the watchful eye of the late Judge Christian and sees the judgeship as an "opportunity to reach out to youth."
Rules Committee chair Violet Anne Golden and Sens. Gregory Bennerson, Adelbert Bryan, Gomez, Almando "Rocky" Liburd and Vargrave Richards approved the nomination. Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg was excused. Non-committee member senators attending the meeting were Lorraine Berry, Donald "Ducks" Cole, Roosevelt David and Allie-Allison Petrus.

The nomination now goes to the full Senate; if approved there, it will be sent to the governor for his signature.
Also on the agenda were the nomination of Rafael Jackson to be Tourism commissioner, the nomination of St. Thomas developer Neil Weiss to serve on the Industrial Development Commission, and a bill creating a V.I. Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Weiss sent a letter stating that for medical reasons he couldn't attend Tuesday's session. The anatomical gift bill was held in committee until its next meeting. See the separate story above on Jackson's nomination.
Among those in attendance for a part of the hearing Tuesday were 32 honor roll students from Jane E. Tuitt Elementary School who were on a field trip sponsored by Sen. Roosevelt David.

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