May 4, 2007 — Sen. Ronald Russell said he hopes federal judges will right what he believes local judges got wrong.
The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals will meet Tuesday to hear Russell's appeal of a January ruling, in which Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall sided with the V.I. government, placing the new V.I. Supreme Court on St. Thomas, not St. Croix, as Russell had hoped.
Kendall's ruling was wrong, Russell said, because placement of the court was a matter for the Senate to decide, not the courts.
"[Kendall] can't make legislation. This issue as to where the court should be placed is a legislative issue, not a judicial issue," Russell said. "Judge Kendall is just dead wrong. If we wanted to place it [the court] on Water Island, we could."
Russell said the federal 3rd Circuit is the appropriate venue. And they've heard similar cases in the past.
"The Superior Court has a history of being overturned on its Constitutional and Organic Act interpretations," Russell said Friday.
In March, the federal Appeals Court rescinded an order barring Russell from appealing Kendall's ruling.
Former Gov. Charles W. Turnbull brought the lawsuit against the Legislature after the Senate overrode his veto of a bill that put the court on St. Croix. Turnbull won that suit shortly before Gov. John deJongh was sworn in.
Russell has consistently contested Kendall's involvement in the case. In December, Russell requested that the District Court issue an emergency order to have the case transferred to federal court. In his motion, Russell wrote that Kendall, in dealing with case, had not "followed rules of procedure" but was "simply doing the bidding of his boss [Turnbull]."
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