V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks ruled Wednesday that Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen was not a candidate for election to the Senate in the November general election and is therefore not entitled to a recount. The 27-page opinion – which in places reads more like a lesson in English grammar and usage than a legal document – came in response to a motion by Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly seeking a writ of mandamus and injunctive relief against the St. Croix District Board of Elections decision to recount Hansen’s vote. The opinion can be read here. Willocks denied Hansen’s motion to dismiss O’Reilly’s motion, granted the writ of mandamus, ordered the Board of Elections to deny Hansen’s petition for a recount, and ordered that any actions taken as a result of the petition for recount be null and void. The decision appears to put an end to the circuitous and convoluted case that had its roots in 2008, when Hansen was convicted on three counts of willful failure to file an income tax return. Under the Revised Organic Act, the federal legislation which provides the legal underpinning of the territory, the conviction made her ineligible to serve in the Legislature.
She again ran for the Senate in 2010 and 2012 and was elected both times, the highest vote getter for Senate on St. Croix. The question of her candidacy was raised but she argued, and the Board of Elections agreed, that having completed her court ordered punishment for the conviction, she was again eligible. Opponents challenged that her conviction amounted to a “crime of moral turpitude,” rendering her ineligible to hold office under Virgin Islands law as long as the conviction remained on her record.
This year Hansen filed papers to seek another term in the Senate, setting off a dizzying array of suits and countersuits. Wednesday’s opinion details the legal battle, as Hansen’s name was ordered on and taken off the ballot repeatedly, with the Supreme Court ruling that indeed her conviction amounted to moral turpitude. Gov. John deJongh Jr. pardoned Hansen, but her application was ruled to be flawed and she had missed the deadline for filing corrected papers, so she was officially removed from the ballot after early voting had already started.