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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTHOMAS-FRANCIS SWORN IN AS TERRITORIAL JUDGE

THOMAS-FRANCIS SWORN IN AS TERRITORIAL JUDGE

In a courtroom overflowing with family, friends, judges, senators and federal justice personnel, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey L. Thomas-Francis was sworn in Friday by Presiding Judge Maria Cabret as a judge of the Territorial Court.
It was hard to say who made up the largest portion of the audience — the many members of the Thomas clan, including educator Ruth Thomas; representatives of the District Court, including the Safe Street Task Force; or the educational community.
From the start, the ceremony took on aspects of a church service as Pastor Audley Charlton gave the invocation and Territorial Court Administrative Judge Brenda J. Hollar delivered opening remarks.
Hollar described Thomas-Francis at one point as a "prayer warrior" and at another as a very spiritual person. She also called the former prosecutor a "gracious adversary," citing one of their first courtroom encounters, where Hollar said she learned a lot about "friendly persuasion," as opposed to "acrimonious confrontation."
Jeanette Smith-Barry, Charlotte Amalie High School principal and lifelong friend, along with her late husband, Deputy U.S. Marshal Wilbur Barry, of Thomas-Francis, next took the podium. She teasingly told the audience that Thomas-Francis had kept pestering her, most recently at 6:45 Friday morning, asking, "Have you given any thought to what you might say?"
All of what Smith-Barry had to say was good, in praise of Thomas-Francis's Christian values and strong character. She warned anyone coming before the bench not to be fooled by the new judge's diminutive size.
Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen made a surprise appearance with brief remarks. "I'm thrilled I can be here," she said, adding for the benefit of people who "keep indicating I came from a long way" that, in fact, she "came from St. Croix." The delegate praised Thomas-Francis's abilities, looking back to the time when she had clerked for her father, the late Judge Almeric L. Christian. "Daddy only chose the very best," the delegate said.
A native St. Thomian, Thomas-Francis graduated from CAHS and the then-College of the Virgin Islands. Then she taught English on St.Thomas for seven years before moving to the mainland to continue her education. She graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1984, spent a couple of years in private practice, and then joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1989.
Active in coordinating community outreach from the U.S. Attorney's Office, she is especially credited for her work with "Street Law" courses at CAHS. She also taught practical English to police officers.
Senate president Vargrave Richards, a former teacher, remarked that he had to be careful of his speech around Thomas-Francis, "or she will correct me – Vargrave, what was that?"
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said the selection of judges is one of his most serious duties, one that keeps him awake at night. In the case of Thomas-Francis, he said, "It was a joy to nominate her."
In a brief and solemn response, the new judge, modest amid all the attention, thanked Turnbull and the senators who had unanimously approved her nomination. She said she would need the "wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job," quoting scripture which was taken up by the audience. She said she looked forward to her judicial future knowing that "Christ strengthens me."
Attorney Amos Carty Jr., master of ceremonies for the installation service, smilingly concluded, "I know it's Friday, but it seems like Sunday. I don't know whether it's a ceremony or a church service."
With Thomas-Francis's installation, following that of Rhys Hodge last month, the Territorial Court for the St. Thomas-St. John district now has its full complement of five judges. Those in addition to Hollar, Hodge and Thomas-Francis are Ishmael Meyers and Ive Swan.

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In a courtroom overflowing with family, friends, judges, senators and federal justice personnel, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey L. Thomas-Francis was sworn in Friday by Presiding Judge Maria Cabret as a judge of the Territorial Court.
It was hard to say who made up the largest portion of the audience -- the many members of the Thomas clan, including educator Ruth Thomas; representatives of the District Court, including the Safe Street Task Force; or the educational community.
From the start, the ceremony took on aspects of a church service as Pastor Audley Charlton gave the invocation and Territorial Court Administrative Judge Brenda J. Hollar delivered opening remarks.
Hollar described Thomas-Francis at one point as a "prayer warrior" and at another as a very spiritual person. She also called the former prosecutor a "gracious adversary," citing one of their first courtroom encounters, where Hollar said she learned a lot about "friendly persuasion," as opposed to "acrimonious confrontation."
Jeanette Smith-Barry, Charlotte Amalie High School principal and lifelong friend, along with her late husband, Deputy U.S. Marshal Wilbur Barry, of Thomas-Francis, next took the podium. She teasingly told the audience that Thomas-Francis had kept pestering her, most recently at 6:45 Friday morning, asking, "Have you given any thought to what you might say?"
All of what Smith-Barry had to say was good, in praise of Thomas-Francis's Christian values and strong character. She warned anyone coming before the bench not to be fooled by the new judge's diminutive size.
Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen made a surprise appearance with brief remarks. "I'm thrilled I can be here," she said, adding for the benefit of people who "keep indicating I came from a long way" that, in fact, she "came from St. Croix." The delegate praised Thomas-Francis's abilities, looking back to the time when she had clerked for her father, the late Judge Almeric L. Christian. "Daddy only chose the very best," the delegate said.
A native St. Thomian, Thomas-Francis graduated from CAHS and the then-College of the Virgin Islands. Then she taught English on St.Thomas for seven years before moving to the mainland to continue her education. She graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1984, spent a couple of years in private practice, and then joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1989.
Active in coordinating community outreach from the U.S. Attorney's Office, she is especially credited for her work with "Street Law" courses at CAHS. She also taught practical English to police officers.
Senate president Vargrave Richards, a former teacher, remarked that he had to be careful of his speech around Thomas-Francis, "or she will correct me – Vargrave, what was that?"
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said the selection of judges is one of his most serious duties, one that keeps him awake at night. In the case of Thomas-Francis, he said, "It was a joy to nominate her."
In a brief and solemn response, the new judge, modest amid all the attention, thanked Turnbull and the senators who had unanimously approved her nomination. She said she would need the "wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job," quoting scripture which was taken up by the audience. She said she looked forward to her judicial future knowing that "Christ strengthens me."
Attorney Amos Carty Jr., master of ceremonies for the installation service, smilingly concluded, "I know it's Friday, but it seems like Sunday. I don't know whether it's a ceremony or a church service."
With Thomas-Francis's installation, following that of Rhys Hodge last month, the Territorial Court for the St. Thomas-St. John district now has its full complement of five judges. Those in addition to Hollar, Hodge and Thomas-Francis are Ishmael Meyers and Ive Swan.