Case Caption: In the Matter of the Guardianship of Lillian R. Smith,Case Number: S.Ct. Civ. No. 2009-0117Date: 11/15/2010Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

The Court holds that when a statute establishes the specific procedure for invoking the Superior Court's jurisdiction, the failure to follow that procedure deprives the Superior Court of its jurisdiction. Consequently, the Court holds that compliance with section 842 of title 15 of the Virgin Islands Code, which establishes procedures governing the appointment of guardians for incompetent individuals-including that the Superior Court provide the proposed ward with not less than 10 days notice of the time and place of the hearing and that the Superior Court conduct a full hearing-is a prerequisite to the Superior Court obtaining jurisdiction to appoint a guardian, and that the Superior Court's failure to follow these provisions may be raised by any interested party at any time or by the Supreme Court sua sponte. The Court further holds that, because the ward in the instant matter was not served until six days before the hearing date and was not given the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses or introduce any evidence on her own behalf, the requirements of section 842 were not met in this case. Accordingly, the Court holds that the guardianship order, as well as all subsequently-entered orders in the matter, are nullities that lack any legal effect.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion