Case Caption: Sheena James v. George G. O’Reilly IIICase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2018-0001Date: 05/01/2019Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: 2019 VI 14Summary: In a domestic relations case with contested issues of visitation and child custody, because there is no statute or court rule authorizing automatic re-transfer to the original judicial district when a party ceases employment with the Superior Court, the St. Thomas Family Judge erred in granting the father’s motion to transfer the case back to St. Croix without awaiting a response from the mother and without determining whether a transfer was warranted under 4 V.I.C. § 78(b). The transfer order of June 16, 2016 is vacated. Even if it were appropriate to transfer venue, the St. Croix Family Judge erred by presiding over the case after having previously recused herself. On remand the Clerk of the Court shall reassign the matter to the St. Thomas Family Court Judge, who shall exercise jurisdiction over the matter, including ruling under the proper legal standard on any renewed motion to retransfer venue to St. Croix after all parties have an opportunity to be heard. In the event that retransfer is again ordered on a renewed motion, the case shall not be re-assigned to the St. Croix Family Judge who previously recused herself. All orders entered by the St. Croix Family Judge after her order of recusal are vacated as nullities having no legal effect. Because this includes the February 21, 2017 visitation order, the August 14, 2017 visitation order, and the December 29, 2017 order granting the father interim custody, the St. Thomas Family Judge is directed to immediately enter a new interim order to address both visitation and child custody.
Attachment: Open Document or Opinion