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Government of the Virgin Islands v. Rivera

June 18, 2003

GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, APPELLANT
v.
JAMEL RIVERA



On Appeal from the Appellate Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands, Division of St. Thomas and St. John D.C. Criminal No. 00-cr-00228 (Honorable Raymond L. Finch and Honorable Thomas K. Moore, United States District Judges, and Honorable Edgar D. Ross, Territorial Court Judge)

Before: Scirica, Chief Judge,*fn1 Alito and Rendell, Circuit Judges

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scirica, Chief Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued November 8, 2002

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Appellate Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands remanded this criminal case for resentencing to the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands. The Government of the Virgin Islands has appealed. At issue is whether we have jurisdiction to hear the government's appeal.

I.

On May 22, 1997, a jury convicted Jamel R. Rivera of assault in the first degree in violation of 14 V.I. Code Ann. § 295(1). The Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands sentenced Rivera to eight years imprisonment with credit for time served, followed by two years supervised probation. Rivera appealed both his conviction and sentence to the Appellate Division of the District Court of the Virgin Islands. The Appellate Division affirmed the conviction, but held the sentence was illegal because "the trial court could not impose probation on [Rivera] without suspending all but six months of his prison term or staying the execution of his sentence." Rivera v. Gov't of the V.I., 42 V.I. 203, 211 (D.V.I. App. Div. 2000).*fn2 The Appellate Division vacated Rivera's sentence and remanded to the Territorial Court for resentencing.

On remand, the Territorial Court resentenced Rivera to "a term of incarceration for a period of ten years, with credit for time served prior to June 19, 1997, from May 22, 1997 to June 19, 1997." Gov't of the V.I. v. Rivera, No. F416/1996, at 2 (Terr. Ct. Apr. 12, 2000) (amended judgment and commitment order). The Territorial Court also assessed seventy-five dollars in court costs, an amount higher than that imposed by the original sentence.

Rivera again appealed. The Appellate Division held the resentencing was barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. See North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969). The Appellate Division vacated the amended judgment and commitment order and remanded to the Territorial Court for resentencing. Rivera v. Gov't of the V.I., 183 F. Supp. 2d 770, 773 (D.V.I. App. Div. 2002).*fn3

The Government of the Virgin Islands now seeks review of the Appellate Division's judgment remanding for resentencing.

II.

Before we review the merits of an appeal, we must determine whether we have jurisdiction. To do so here, we must focus on the Virgin Islands court structure ...


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