Feb. 11, 2004 – Chief District Judge Raymond Finch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Curtis Gomez, who has been nominated for the District Court bench on St. Thomas, both received favorable marks from their peers in a V.I. Bar Association poll released Tuesday.
Finch came in with flying colors, and Gomez wasn't far behind.
President Bush recently nominated Finch to a second 10-year term on the federal bench for the Virgin Islands, based on St. Croix. He was first nominated to the District Court in 1994 by President Clinton.
Bush last Nov. 25 nominated Gomez to succeed District Judge Thomas K. Moore. Nominated in 1992 by the senior George Bush, Moore completed his 10-year term in June of 2002. He was made aware by the administration that he would not be nominated to a second term; however, he has continued to serve in his district judicial capacity pending the nomination and confirmation of a successor.
Both nominations require U.S. Senate confirmation.
While Finch currently carries the designation of "chief" judge of the federal district, it is one which rotates periodically between the two sitting federal jurists in the Virgin Islands.
Amos Carty, V.I. Bar Association president, said on Wednesday that he fully supports both of the current nominees. "Finch is a fine jurist," he said, "and I am especially pleased about Gomez. He is eminently qualified, and he is a Virgin Islander."
Bar association polls "are utilized throughout the country" to assess candidates for judicial appointments, Carty said. "I believe the authority on the selection or nomination of a judge should be the bar association, since these are the attorneys that practice before these judges. The bar should be the main voice authorizing any person's competence."
Carty said the association poll was sent out to about 600 members of the local bar, and 88 of them responded. "Obviously, the ballots are only as effective as the responses we receive," he said. "These ballots tell us clearly a trend; both nominees are clearly supported by the bar association."
The poll asked several questions about the nominees' abilities and fairness, Carty said, with some differences between those for Gomez and those for Finch, since this is Gomez' first nomination to the bench.
Respondents were asked to rate Gomez as to legal competence, knowledge and application of the law; judicial demeanor; reputation in the community and courtroom experience. More than half of the respondents said he is qualified or highly qualified in the first two categories.
The bar members were asked to rate Finch on legal competence, knowledge and application of the law, promptness in addressing issues and fairness in making decisions. Three-quarters of the respondents found Finch highly qualified in the first two categories.
Joel Holt, who chairs the association's Judiciary Committee, said the number of ballots submitted was "lower than the return we hoped for," but the responses "do reflect the opinion of the active members of the bar." He added: "We hope the federal officials who review the nominees' qualifications take our opinions into consideration."
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