Case Caption: Valerie L. Stiles v. John P. Yob, et al.Case Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2016-0027Date: 06/08/2016Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

An appeal filed by a party who was granted intervention in a lawsuit against the Supervisor of Elections and two elections boards, challenging removal of certain individuals from the list of electors, but who was denied leave to file a superseding answer and counterclaim, is dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The Superior Court purported to certify the issues in its rulings for immediate appeal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which it concluded were applicable through Superior Court Rule 7. Whether or not Rule 7 represents a valid exercise of rule-making authority under the Revised Organic Act of 1954, no rule adopted by the Superior Court may limit or expand this Court's review on appeal. A purported certification under Federal Rule 54(b) does not make an order immediately appealable to this Court, but may-at best-merely inform this Court's consideration of whether the order qualifies as a final judgment under 4 V.I.C. § 32 or may be appealed under one of the judicially-created exceptions to the final judgment rule. The Virgin Islands Legislature has exercised its power to determine the jurisdiction of Virgin Islands courts in 4 V.I.C. § 32(a), and to establish a set of permissible interlocutory appeals as of right, as set forth in 4 V.I.C. § 33(b) and (d). For those cases that may benefit from immediate appeal but do not fall within any of those categories, the Legislature has established a certification procedure that permits an interlocutory appeal by permission of both the Supreme Court and the Superior Court under 4 V.I.C. § 33(c). It is this procedure that governs certification of interlocutory appeals in the Virgin Islands, for to hold otherwise would effectively divest the Legislature of its authority under the Revised Organic Act of 1954 to determine the jurisdictional limits of Virgin Islands courts. In this case, the Superior Court never certified any of its orders for interlocutory appeal under 4 V.I.C. § 33(c), but only issued a certification pursuant to Federal Rule 54(b), a provision which is wholly invalid with respect to this Court, and the Superior Court never made any of the findings required under § 33(c), such as that the order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion