Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has nominated Ariel K. Smith, a longtime employee of the V.I. Justice Department with experience as a public defender and in private practice, for the position of attorney general.
Bryan sent down the nomination to the 35th Legislature on Monday, Government House announced Tuesday.
Smith currently serves as the chief of the Civil Division in the V.I. Justice Department, a position she has held since 2016, the press release stated.
In his letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Jr., Bryan asked that the Legislature act expeditiously and favorably on his nomination “to prevent any delays in the official functions of the department.”
Smith, who has a juris doctorate degree from Rutgers University School of Law in New Jersey, would replace former Attorney General Denise George, whom Bryan fired in December on the heels of her record $105 million settlement with the estate of the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Carol Thomas-Jacobs, who was subsequently named acting attorney general, has been nominated to a Superior Court judgeship by Bryan.
As chief of the Civil Division in the Justice Department, Smith oversees a staff of five attorneys and two support staff and manages a caseload of more than 40 cases pertaining to the executive branch and instrumentalities of the government of the Virgin Islands, according to Tuesday’s release.
Prior to being named chief of the Civil Division, she served as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Division for seven years. In that post, she drafted and filed complaints and prepared and presented dispositive and non-dispositive motions, participated in mediation conferences, and represented the government of the Virgin Islands before the V.I. District Court of Superior Court, the release stated.
Smith also served as assistant Territorial Public Defender for five years and performed criminal defense of misdemeanor and major felony offenses, including domestic violence and white collar matters, including conducting more than 20 jury trials, it said.
Prior to that, she was an associate attorney for Smock and Moorhead in private practice on St. Thomas where she practiced general civil litigation with emphasis on insurance defense, bankruptcy, probate, family, labor, real estate, and commercial transactions, the release stated.