Case Caption: Ricardo Mitchell v. Julius Wilson, Director of the Bureau of CorrectionsCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2015-0038Date: 11/04/2015Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

Pursuant to responses to a show-cause order by this Court, the motion filed by a Georgia attorney, J.M. Raffauf, seeking pro hac vice admission to the Virgin Islands Bar, is denied. A member of the Virgin Islands Bar, Eszart A. Wynter, Sr., and Raffauf conventionally filed a brief and joint appendix, ostensibly on behalf of their client, Ricardo Mitchell. The cover of both documents identified Raffauf as the "pro hac vice Attorney for Appellant/Petitioner," and both documents were jointly signed by both Wynter and Raffauf, who again identified himself as "pro hac vice Attorney for Appellant/Petitioner." However, Raffauf had never been granted pro hac vice admission to appear as counsel in this matter. Section 443 of title 4 of the Virgin Islands Code, which defines the unauthorized practice of law, prohibits "the preparation and/or filing of pleadings or other legal papers" by an unlicensed attorney, and Virgin Islands Supreme Court Rule 211.5.5(b)(2) prohibits holding oneself out as a member of the Virgin Islands Bar when one is not. In addition, prior case precedent and Virgin Islands Supreme Court Rule 204(i) clearly indicate that no member of the Virgin Islands Bar-whether regularly admitted, specially admitted, or admitted pro hac vice-"may exercise any of the privileges or responsibilities of that position" until and unless he or she is administered the Oath or Affirmation of Admission, which was not administered to Raffauf in this matter. Because Raffauf engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by signing court documents and holding himself out as a "pro hac vice Attorney," he and Wynter are referred to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Board on Professional Responsibility, and the Virgin Islands Attorney General for the purpose of taking any additional action which they may find appropriate. No such referral is made with respect to another member of the Virgin Islands Bar, Yohana M. Manning, whose claim that he was unaware of Raffauf's unauthorized practice of law is corroborated by the fact that the responses of Raffauf and Wynter make no mention of Manning, as well as the fact that the pro hac vice motion and other documents did not include him on the certificate of service. Accordingly, the order to show cause is discharged as to Manning. The motion to admit Raffauf pro hac vice to the Virgin Islands Bar is denied. The abeyance under this Court's August 18, 2015 order is lifted, the brief and joint appendix that were prepared and signed by Raffauf are rejected, and Wynter and Manning are directed to advise this Court within the next 21 days as to which of them is authorized to represent Mitchell in this appeal.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion