Judge Mackay earns unanimous support of senators
Published: November 1, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - One major hurdle has been cleared for Magistrate Judge Kathleen Mackay, who is on track to become the next V.I. Superior Court judge.
The Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve her nomination to the Legislature, which will meet for a legislative session on Nov. 19.
Mackay, 55, has been a magistrate since June 2009 and prior to that was a self-employed attorney for 10 years.
A native of St. Croix and a 1975 graduate of St. Joseph Catholic High School, Mackay was an attorney on St. Thomas for 23 years, mostly focusing on litigation.
While a magistrate, Mackay handled a variety of traffic and misdemeanor cases. If she is approved to replace Judge Brenda Hollar, who is retiring, she will be one of four to preside over felony cases in the St. Thomas-St. John District.
"I'm even-tempered, cool, measured in my responses, respectful of the people who appear before me," Mackay told the committee while describing her judicial demeanor.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. announced the nomination a couple weeks ago. Hollar is retiring Nov. 30 at the end of her third six-year term on the bench.
"It's very heart-warming," Mackay said after Wednesday's committee hearing. "I'm privileged to have been asked by the governor. It's an honor that's very hard to describe."
A group of Mackay's family members and supporters were in attendance Wednesday. A few of them clapped after the 5-0 vote was announced.
Mackay told the committee she has the right temperament and legal knowledge for the job. A couple of the committee members asked her whether she could handle an overloaded felony docket with little criminal experience, and she assured them she would learn quickly while still acknowledging the pending challenges,
"I'm moving to a new level of responsibility, a new position, a different ball field so to speak," Mackay said. "I don't mean to indicate in any way that I've been there and done it. Decisions a judge are required to make are far more encompassing than what I've done so far."
Mackay answered a variety of questions from the committee, ranging from whether a judge should "legislate" from the bench to the differentiation between a judge and magistrate.
None of the senators present - committee Chairman Usie Richards, Celestino White Sr., Carlton Dowe, Patrick Simeon Sprauve and Sammuel Sanes - disapproved of her answers.
Mackay's educational background includes a bachelor of arts degree in economics from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She later graduated from Rutgers University School of Law in Camden, N.J. In between, she worked in St. Thomas in the V.I. Finance Department and transferred to the V.I. Internal Revenue Bureau, where she served for three years as a senior tax research analyst.
Her interest in the law drew her back to the classroom and she was admitted to the Virgin Islands Bar in 1987.
She said her education was funded through a "combination of grants, scholarships and loans," including loans from the Virgin Islands Board of Education and other local grant programs.
"Without this assistance provided through a combination of Virgin Islands financial resources, getting my education would have been extremely difficult," she said.
Mackay was appointed by the Superior Court to serve as one of the first four magistrates to serve in the Magistrate Division. She said she's presided over more than 2,000 proceedings, including advice-of-rights hearings, traffic trials, small claims cases, landlord-tenant cases, civil domestic violence proceedings, misdemeanor bench trials and change of plea hearings.
In November 2011, she earned a certificate in general jurisdiction from the National Judicial College in Reno, Nev., during a two-week program that provides additional training for judges.
- Contact Tony Holt at 714-9104 or email@example.com.