Senate Has No Complaints About ‘Effective, Efficient’ Legal Services

Shelby King Gaddy, executive director or Legal Services, testifies at Senate. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Island)
Shelby King Gaddy, executive director or Legal Services, testifies at Senate. (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Island)

Legal Services of the Virgin Islands, which assists low-income families with legal problems, faced no tough cross examination Tuesday when it presented its budget request to the Senate Committee on Finance.

The request for the upcoming fiscal year is $1.3 million; a decrease of $70,000 from last year’s request.

Attorney Shelby King Gaddy, the executive director, said the decrease represented the amount the agency needed last year for mitigation of the damage caused to the Legal Services property from the hurricanes of 2017.

Sen. Donna A. Frett-Gregory said the presentation was heartwarming and read back a paragraph from the written testimony of Gaddy.

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“We look forward to the opportunity each year to appear before this committee to present to you and the taxpayers the evidence of our efficient, effective and fiscally responsible stewardship over the funds entrusted to us by the V. I. Government. Legal Services is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Each year we receive and report the results of our annual audit, which is always ‘unqualified’ or a clean audit.”

Attorney Kimberly Berry, managing attorney for the St. Croix office, gave the senators an inside look at what the agency does by synopsizing two cases handled by Legal Services. Cases handled by Legal Services can include rectifying unsafe rental housing, challenging wrongful discharges, obtaining a protective court order against an abusive spouse, fighting for custody of children, or securing veterans or other federal benefits.

“It is very challenging to navigate the legal system on your own,” Gaddy said.

Gaddy said the challenge facing Legal Services is staffing. It has five attorneys and she would like to hire at least two more attorneys. She expects the workload to go up because legal issues related to disasters can last until 10 years after the event.

She added Legal Services has “a heck of a time attracting attorneys” because the pay is lower than it is at the Attorney General’s or Public Defender’s offices.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. 🙂I had the honor of being a Legal Services employee, in the last decade of my court oriented civil law practice. I met an incredible number of Virgin Islanders here, including that lovely lady cashier in the Tutu Pueblo who sells the best wedding cake on island. The best. Better that the that I I had at a Dudley wedding … that good.

    🛶〰 In the middle of that time, about 2005, I first met the current director, Shelby King Gaddy. She was “cutting her teeth” with the concept of a people oriented free legal service. Have extensive challenges in her life she met the STX conservative management and learned her lessons well. I am proud to have worked with her and be a part of a much needed source of help to working people of the Virgin Islands.

    ♎️LSVI, as we call it, gives the kind of assistance needed to those who need it most. They don’t draft wills that older people think they need, just to get rid of a pesky client. They do prepare written documents to avoid the post death legal issues that the beloved children and spouse should not inherit.

    ♎️Legal Services does draft powers of attorney, that young families need to get their children enrolled into daycare … or Pistarckle Theater’s Children’s programs. Or a family matter to modify the poorly drafted agreement to allow a child the opportunity to travel off island to visit to attend a granny ninetieth birthday or attend an event with black wedding cake. Young parents need this kind of assistance.

    🌴Virgin Islanders are so lucky to have Attorney King-Gaddy in our corner. She is a formidable person doing things the right way, for the right reasons.

    🦉✒️Legislature: Your money has been well spent.

  2. Need an edit:
    Third from last paragraph, remove “to visit”;
    Second paragraph, comma word “life.”
    First paragraph, make past perfect, Ie, Having had not just “had” and remove one of the I

    Thanks, Source. A very well written article.
    Don Buchanan, you are a good writer.
    Be blessed, Rob the Buddhist
    Ps ⛩ Temple Meditation today, Wednesday: 5:30. Nirvana Healing Center.

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