Golden v. Government of the V.I – Case Brief Summary (Virgin Islands)

In Golden v. Government of the V.I., Civ. No. 2005/0005, Slip op. (D.V.I. Mar. 1, 2005), the District Court of the Virgin Islands ruled that laches barred an election contest.

In Golden, one of the plaintiffs, Carmen Golden, sought re-election to the St. Croix Board of Elections as a Democrat. Only one seat was certified for the Democratic primary, and Golden was not elected to that seat upon receiving the second highest number of votes.

In the general election four seats were open, and Golden received the fourth highest number of votes as a write-in candidate. Golden was ultimately denied a seat on the board, however, because the Democratic seats were full, and Golden was enrolled in the election as a Democrat.

Golden and her husband subsequently challenged that decision, arguing that two Democratic seats should have been certified for the Democratic primary.

The court concluded that the plaintiffs' claim was barred by laches. Specifically, the court found that the plaintiffs "were well aware that only one seat had been certified for the Democratic primary, when they believed that two seats should have been certified. They lacked diligence by waiting to see whether their candidate of choice won the one certified seat, before bringing a legal action arguing that a second seat should have been certified. The doctrine of laches bars such post-election 'sandbagging on the part of wily plaintiffs.'" (Golden, slip op. at 11.)