Case Caption: People of the Virgin Islands v. Roland G. Murrell, Jr.Case Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2011-0074Date: 06/18/2012Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In an appeal by the Government of the Virgin Islands pursuant to 4 V.I.C. § 33(d)(2) from a decision of the Superior Court in a criminal case suppressing various items of physical evidence as well as statements obtained during a "stop and frisk," the statutory term "the Attorney General conducting the prosecution" does not mean that the Attorney General must personally sign the certification for interlocutory appeal. On the merits of the suppression motion, applying Third Circuit precedent - which is based on the premise that local Virgin Islands law does not contain a presumption that an individual lacks a permit to carry a firearm - the Superior Court correctly granted the motion to suppress: there is absolutely no evidence in the record that the officer received any information that defendant possessed an unlicensed firearm or a firearm with an altered serial number, nor was there any evidence from which he could have inferred that defendant was engaging in criminal behavior. Because the People have failed to argue, either before the Superior Court or in their appellate brief, that the Third Circuit cases were wrongly decided and that this Court should hold under 23 V.I.C. § 488 that a presumption exists in Virgin Islands law that an individual lacks a permit to carry a firearm, the People cannot satisfy the burden of showing that the trial court's ruling in this case was plainly in error. Therefore, July 28, 2011 Order is affirmed. This appeal does not decide the broader issue of whether this Court should continue to follow the Third Circuit's prior interpretation of local law concerning firearms possession and the presumption that an individual lacks a permit to carry a firearm.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion