Case Caption: In re Application of Gregory NevinsCase Number: S. Ct. BA. No. 2014-0025Date: 05/06/2014Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

It is the unauthorized practice of law and a violation of 4 V.I.C. § 443 for an individual – including a pro hac vice applicant who has not taken the oath of office – to perform any legal services or to hold himself or herself out as a Virgin Islands attorney when not yet admitted to the Virgin Islands Bar. Accordingly, a petition for pro hac vice admission of a Georgia attorney, whose signature appeared on an appellate brief and joint appendix in another matter before the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands before the Court had either reviewed or ruled upon that petition, is denied. The fact that the attorney included the designation “pro hac vice application pending” after his name on those filings does not render his conduct any less improper. Several months before this petition was filed, the Court had issued a published opinion explaining that § 443, and not A.B.A. Model Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5, governs the unauthorized practice of law in the Virgin Islands, and the Virgin Islands Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 211.5.5 (which specifically references § 443), became effective six weeks before the petition, on February 1, 2014. Neither § 443, Rule 211.5.5, nor any other authority codifies a pro bono exception to the prohibition on unauthorized practice of law. Since pro hac vice admission is a privilege and not a right, and this attorney has never been authorized to assist the appellants with their appeal, denying such admission cannot result in any prejudice, particularly since appellants may continue to be represented by the licensed Virgin Islands attorney who moved for the Georgia attorney's pro hac vice admission. The March 20, 2014 petition is denied. In addition, since the underlying conduct may potentially warrant action beyond the denial of pro hac vice admission, the matter is referred to the Virgin Islands Attorney General, the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the purpose of taking any additional action which they may find appropriate.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion