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Griffiths Asks Superior Court To ‘Quash’ AVIS Complaint By Rohn

terri griffiths TIGHT

               Terri Griffiths

CHRISTIANSTED – Former V.I. Attorney General Terri Griffiths – acting independently of the government – has filed a motion to “quash” the lawsuit the St. Croix AVIS newspaper filed in mid-July to obtain information about Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s expenses to date, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

The motion Griffiths filed in Superior Court on July 30 alleges that the AVIS lawsuit – filed by St. Croix attorney Lee Rohn on July 14 on behalf of the newspaper – does not follow the “Rules and fundamental Constitutional requirements of due process.”

“The undersigned [Terri Griffiths] respectfully requests that this court fashion sanctions that would deter Attorney Lee Rohn and the AVIS from future misconduct,” Griffiths wrote in the motion obtained by the Virgin Islands Free Press.

Additionally, Griffiths stated that her billable hour rate has been $300 since 2005, and although she said she worked six hours on “research, preparing a draft motion, editing and obtaining a copy of the Complaint,” she only asked for $1,500 in compensation from the court. Although, according to her own formula, she could have asked for $1,800.

Rena Brodhurst, the publisher of the St. Croix AVIS and Rohn – did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Griffiths – who makes clear in the motion that she is an independent “non-party” to Rohn’s “miscellaneous action,” said in her motion that the AVIS complaint lacks merit because it seeks to subpoena people, quasi-government and business entities that are not currently under “a pending civil, criminal or administrative proceeding.”

“Because the validity of a subpoena depends on the existence of a proceeding, it is imperative that there is a legitimate underlying proceeding,” Griffiths wrote.

The motion further alleges that the AVIS used its complaint to serve a subpoena on Bohlke International Airways demanding flight information about Mapp “and other individuals based on unfounded allegations of wrongdoing.”

Moreover, Griffith’s motion finds fault with the AVIS complaint being directed at a fictitious “XYZ” defendant, stating that the complaint was written in that manner to “improperly obtain discovery outside the confines of constitutional due process, to avoid Court oversight and to avoid applicable procedural rules.”

“The AVIS complaint names a fictitious defendant and alleges the ‘Plaintiff believes one or more governmental employee [sic] in the executive branch has been improperly expending funds to the harm of the tax payers [sic] of the Virgin Islands,’” Griffiths wrote. “The AVIS fails to identify any of these governmental employees; however, the subpoena includes a laundry list of names. Thus, it was improper to use a fictitious name.”

On January 16, Mapp named Griffiths as the temporary V.I. Attorney General.  But on May 26, former Superior Court Judge James Carroll III replaced her. Prior to Mapp being elected governor, Griffiths had represented him in her private practice.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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