US Virgin Islands

The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands funds and administers all indigent defense services. An agency and the judiciary administer services. A commission oversees services provided by the agency, and a standing committee oversees the private attorney panels. There is no entity overseeing other appointed private attorneys.

The U.S. Virgin Islands contract with the Office of the Territorial Public Defender (OTPD) to administer almost all adult and juvenile trial and appellate representation across the islands. OTPD is staffed by public defenders and led by a chief public defender. OTPD has two divisions: one serving the islands of St. Thomas and St. John, and one serving St. Croix. When OTPD is unavailable, judges appoint private attorneys from panels at an hourly rate. The judiciary maintains six panels: felonies, misdemeanors, appeals, juvenile, guardian ad litem, and habeas corpus. If no panel attorney is available, judges can appoint any licensed attorney.

The Public Defender Administration, which is composed of five members appointed by diverse authorities, oversees OTPD. The board appoints the chief public defender and is responsible for hiring all other staff upon the recommendation of the chief public defender. The OTPD board has no oversight of private attorneys; instead, a separate five-member standing committee, created by the territorial supreme court, provides oversight of private attorney panels. There is no commission with oversight of non-panel attorneys.

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Questions Open/Close

Is there a right to counsel in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

Who serves on the Public Defender Administration overseeing the Office of the Territorial Public Defender?

Who serves on the standing committee overseeing the private attorney panels?

In which branch of government does the indigent defense system reside?