Case Caption: In re Mary Moorhead, et al. v. Governor Kenneth E. Mapp, et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2014-0042Date: 04/14/2015Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

An order of the Superior Court denying relief on a complaint for mandamus relief as well as injunctive relief is reversed. In reviewing plaintiff's claim that the Government failed to comply with the requirements of Act No. 4844 to instruct students in the history of the Virgin Islands and basic Caribbean history, the court did not grant a hearing as requested but instead erred by crediting inadmissible, unsworn factual assertions made by the Government in its opposition. The error may be harmless as applied to the mandamus claim because - to warrant such relief - a petitioner must establish that there is no other adequate means to attain the desired relief and that its right to the writ is clear and indisputable. In this case the plaintiff has other avenues available to her to compel the Government to comply with Act No. 4844, such as her alternate claim under 5 V.I.C. § 80, a statute authorizing taxpayer actions to restrain illegal or unauthorized acts by a territorial officer or employee, or the wrongful disbursement of territorial funds. However, the Superior Court analyzed the merits of the complaint solely through the lens of her mandamus claim and did not address the statutory cause of action. The implicit denial of a claim, without providing any reasons, constitutes reversible error. The June 26, 2014 order is reversed and the matter is remanded to the Superior Court so that it may consider the claim under 5 V.I.C. § 80 on the merits, and to reconsider the denial of mandamus relief in the event it were to conclude that relief is not available to that statute.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion