Case Caption: Stanley D. Smith v. Denise A. HenleyCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2017-0006Date: 10/27/2017Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary: In an ex-husband’s appeal from an order awarding his ex-wife a 2.5% interest in the portion of his government pension earned during their marriage and a 50% interest in land purchased during the marriage, in which he also contests the Superior Court’s receipt of portions of his Government Employees Retirement System (“GERS”) records into evidence, the distribution of marital property and evidentiary ruling were not an abuse of discretion. The ex-wife’s equitable interest in her former husband’s GERS pension was not statutorily prohibited by operation of 3 V.I.C. § 725, because the non-assignment clause of that statute does not exist to protect one former spouse’s rights to his government pension by prohibiting the other former spouse, a beneficiary under 3 V.I.C. § 701, from reaching it. Instead, it protects the interests of both former spouses in the pension by insulating it from claims by interested third parties. Regarding the award of a 50% interest to each of the spouses in the real property acquired during their marriage, the equitable determination was not a clearly erroneous finding of fact, an errant conclusion of law, or an improper application of law to fact, because the Superior Court, in its capacity as fact-finder, made credibility determinations with respect to the assertions of the parties, finding that throughout their marriage, the former spouses acted as a team and, although through different means, each contributed to their ability to acquire and maintain the property at issue. On the evidentiary ruling admitting portions of his GERS pension records, the trial record establishes that the judge conducted a proper voir dire to determine whether they satisfied the hearsay exception provided by Evidence Rule 803(6) for records of a regularly conducted activity. The contention that this evidence was per se untrustworthy because this witness did not prepare the documents under consideration and because they were sections of a larger document is rejected. The person who actually prepared the document need testify so long as other circumstantial evidence and testimony suggest its trustworthiness. As long as its proponent lays a sufficient foundation, the incompleteness of a document alone does not preclude its admission but goes towards its evidentiary weight or value. Consequently, the Superior Court’s decision to accept the GERS pension records proof into evidence was not a clearly erroneous finding of fact, an errant conclusion of law, or an improper application of law to fact amounting to an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the Superior Court’s rulings on these issues, as reflected in its December 15, 2016 order, are affirmed.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion