In June of 2015, LSVI held a Conference on Aging in St. Croix and St. Thomas for the elderly in the Community. This Conference was one of our many outreach programs, but was directed primarily toward educating the elderly on various legal issues. At both conferences, there were numerous presentations that were held to include:
A presentation on Mental Health involving Alzheimer’s and Dementia by the Disability Rights Center of the Virgin Islands,
A presentation on Elder Abuse by the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, Family Resource Center on St. Thomas and the Virgin Islands Human Services: Adult Protective Services,
A presentation on the State of Senior Citizen Affairs by the Virgin Islands Human Services,
A presentation on Wills, Deeds and Advanced Directives: Estate Planning by LSVI,
A presentation on Seniors Medicare Patrol by the Virgin Islands Human Services, and
A presentation on Consumer Protection For Seniors: Identity Theft & Scams by the Virgin Islands Division of Licensing and Consumer Affairs & AARP.
We were able to provide breakfast and lunch for all participants and at the end of the conference every attendee left with a goodie bag that was filled with trinkets donated by various Virgin Islands organizations. The attendees had a great time learning about these different legal aspects that may arise as they age. At the end of the conference we received many thanks for holding an event to inform the elderly of their rights and legalities that they need to be aware of. This program was held in conjunction with the Department of Human Services. We look forward to continuing to provide legal education and outreach to the members of this beautiful community!
In November 2015, I was awarded the opportunity to attend a four-day NITA Training in Boulder Colorado. This specific training was titled “International Society of Barristers: Excellence In Advocacy Trial Skills Program”. The program was intended to teach attorneys that primarily provide services to indigent clients various aspects of trial advocacy. NITA sent us a case file and assigned each participant to a side (Plaintiff or Defendant), team and group. During the program we went through each aspect of trial and then at the end were allowed to conduct a mock trial.
From day one you were put on the spot to perform and exercise your trial skills. In marketing, NITA emphasizes its high learning curve because of its learning method that has a participant performing on his or her first day; and that is exactly what happened! After a short meeting to analyze our case in a group and minor instructions, we were told to put on direct examination in front of our small group, while being recorded! We then met with one of the instructors to watch the recording and went over what we did well and what we needed to improve. From the first day, I was able to leave with some great tips on trial advocacy, but it did not stop there. We were tasked with homework assignments to bring back for the following day. By the second day, I was even more comfortable performing and was picking up great skills as I went along.
Despite the biting cold of the mountains, the trip was a great experience and I was able to learn many things I did not know before. At the training, I even learned ways to stand in court that would not distract a jury or factfinder. This was definitely a worthwhile trip and I look forward to using the skills learned to represent the clients of Legal Services of the Virgin Islands!
Thank you Legal Services for affording me this awesome opportunity to learn and grow!
During the annual VI Legislature Committee on Finance hearing, LSVI requested an additional $291,000 for its 2016 fiscal year budget. LSVI requested this additional monies to assist us in continuing to provide equal access to justice and high-quality, civil legal assistance free of cost to our client population. LSVI believes that this increase in funding is needed, reasonable, and justified. If awarded this additional funds, LSVI plans to use these funds to hire two new attorneys, to fund the necessary salary increases, and to hire a development person to initiate and coordinate fundraising activities.
Attending the meeting to discuss this increase was LSVI’s Executive Director, Richard Austin, Esq., LSVI’s Board of Trustees’ President, Trudy Fenster, Esq., LSVI’s St. Croix Office Managing Attorney and Litigation Director, Shelby King Gaddy, Esq., and LSVI’s Director of Finance and Administration, Kenneth Guye. These four persons presented to the Senate on behalf of LSVI to seek continued funding and the additional increase.
In 2014 alone, LSVI opened 1, 274 cases throughout the territory; 691 on St. Croix, and 583 on St. Thomas. In 2014, LSVI closed 1, 275 cases throughout the territory; 741 on St. Croix and 534 on St. Thomas-St. John. With this high volume of cases coming into LSVI and with its limited resources, LSVI attorneys handle 60 to 70 cases on average at any given time, in comparison to the 40 to 50 that they are allocated to be handling at a time. The Senators commended LSVI on its impressive ability to handle the amount of cases that they are handling. However, the Senators were extremely concerned about the high number of individuals in the community who meet the eligibility guidelines, but cannot receive LSVI’s services. They were equally concerned about those individuals who are slightly over the eligibility guidelines and are also unable to receive LSVI’s services. In response to those concern, LSVI’s Executive Director stated that “There are unmet needs that we have now that we are not able to serve and by increasing the eligibility level, that could possibly increase the pool of the unmet needs.”
LSVI is committed to serving the Community and endeavor to do more. The Board of Trustees through the new 5 year Strategic Plan will revisit the Program Priorities in an effort to reach more and serve more.