Case Caption: Earl Moore v. Paula WaltersCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2013-0088Date: 10/29/2014Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

An opinion and order of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, which upheld a judgment entered by the Magistrate Division of that court for $5,400 representing money taken from the plaintiff by the defendant, is affirmed. No error is found in the Appellate Division's affirmance of the magistrate's factual determinations, and on appeal the court must defer to the credibility decision made by the factfinder, whether it be the judge or the jury. Superior Court Rule 64 states that the judge shall conduct the trial in a manner so as to do substantial justice between the parties according to the rules of substantive law, and shall not be bound by the statutory provisions or rules of practice, procedure, pleadings, or evidence, except such provisions relating to privileged communications, but this does not relieve a party of the obligation to establish a case. It was not the magistrate's obligation to obtain evidence and make the defendant's case for him. The suggestion that the trial court acted summarily is specious. The defendant failed to raise at the hearing any objection on the claim advanced now on appeal that the magistrate displayed antipathy toward him. Therefore, such arguments are waived unless there were exceptional circumstances that affected the integrity of the trial, where the public interest requires that the issues be heard or manifest injustice would result from the failure to consider such issues. No exceptional circumstances have been presented in this case to warrant deviation from the established rule of waiver when a party fails to preserve an argument. While the trial court may have appeared to be abrupt and hurried during the defendant's presentation, evidence of actual bias by the magistrate has not been presented. The September 27, 2013, opinion and order of the Superior Court Appellate Division, which affirmed a judgment entered by the Magistrate Division of the same court against the defendant in the amount of $5,400, is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion