On March 20, 2023, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) sent down to the 35th Legislature his nomination of Ariel K. Smith for the position of United States Virgin Islands Attorney General. The nomination comes after Bryan terminated former Attorney General Denise George shortly after she filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase for helping Jeffrey Epstein.
Smith currently serves as the chief of the Civil Division in the US Virgin Islands Department of Justice, a position she has held since 2016. In his letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. (D), Governor Bryan asked that the Legislature act expeditiously and favorably on his nomination of Attorney Smith “to prevent any delays in the official functions of the department.”
The nominee has a juris doctorate degree from Rutgers University School of Law in New Jersey. As chief of the civil division in the Department of Justice, 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.
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 District Court of the US Virgin Islands and the Superior Court of the US Virgin Islands.
The nominee 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.
Prior to that, Smith was an associate attorney for Smock and Moorhead in private practice, where she practiced general civil litigation with an emphasis on insurance defense, bankruptcy, probate, family, labor, real estate, and commercial transactions.