New face

Beaconites welcome Steven Melendez, the Beacon’s newest reporter. Mr. Melendez, a native of Long Island, New York, recently earned a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University, outside Chicago. He is excited to explore the Virgin Islands and to escape from the northern ice and snow. In the coming months, he will be covering the courts, as well as general news assignments.


Picture perfect


Last week the Beacon cited a report from CNN about the 12 “coolest” nations in the world. If the Virgin Islands was disappointed that it didn’t make the list, here is something to rejoice about. According to the travel blog, Road Town made the top 10 cities for “great photography.” Road Town was ranked number 10 because “the houses are brightly painted in Caribbean blues and greens, with splashes of pinks and corals. There’s nothing like a photo of that gorgeous aqua clear-to-the-bottom water! Further, sunsets on Cane Garden Bay are tranquil purples, golds and blues. Also, the slower pace is evident and amazingly (and easily) conveyed through a lens.” Budapest, Hungary was number one, while Paris, France came in fifth. The article concluded, “Hundreds of thousands of places around the world are worthy of being photographed, but these wonderful places are each a treasure trove to be captured and remembered.” Although Road Town was selected as one of the cities for great photography, Beaconites were disappointed to note that the photo gallery accompanying the story only included images of Necker Island.


No sleeping in court


Justice Indra Hariprashad-Charles opened the February criminal Assizes last week with a warning to jurors: Don’t fall asleep. She told the jury that several years ago a juror had fallen asleep during the middle of a rape trial while the victim was giving her testimony. The victim was too embarrassed to say aloud what the defendant had done to her, so the prosecutor had the woman write it down on a piece of paper instead. The paper was passed around and an attractive female juror who received it nudged the sleeping male juror and gave him the paper without a word. The man awoke, read the racy note, smiled at the woman and put it in his pocket. When the bailiff approached the man for the paper, he didn’t want to give it up. “Sir, it’s a private matter,” the confused juror told the bailiff. The jury last Tuesday laughed pretty loudly at the judge’s story, and the Beaconite enjoyed it as well. He thinks the judge had good advice, though: Don’t fall asleep in court.


Demolishing signs


A sign posted at Belle Vue used to say “Speed Bump Ahead,” but someone has altered it, changing its meaning entirely. The vandal painted over the word “Bump,” and it now says “Speed Ahead.” Though a Beaconite got a chuckle out of the alteration, she was disappointed by the vandalism — especially when she noticed that some mirrors on the nearby hills have been shattered, too. She hopes that people will treat signs and mirrors better in the future, as they serve an important purpose.


Court history lesson


At the opening of the Assizes last week, an attorney representing the territory’s defence lawyers took his turn to welcome the jury. But the attorney, who spoke after lengthy addresses from the judge and the director of public prosecutions, used his time to give the jury a quick history lesson. The jury system, he said, came from England, where it was preceded by judges of Eyre. They were travelling judges who were primarily interested in collecting money for the king through fines, he explained. Sometimes the fines levied were so severe that people fled to the woods rather than face the judges of the Eyre, the attorney said. To fix this, King Henry II established the jury system in 1166 in the Assize of Clarendon, where defendants were judged by their peers for the first time. The system quickly grew popular and evolved into a key part of the modern judicial system, the attorney said.