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Judge's Suicide Leaves Only Questions

The Facebook page for Judge Francis J. D'Eramo shows a man with a vibrant smile and many friends. But with the judge's apparent suicide this week, his family is asking those friends to make his Facebook page a memorial for their memories and stories about him.

A Superior Court judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands, D'Eramo, 49, was found hanging in his St. Croix condominium Monday morning, just minutes before he was to begin jury selection and trial in a high-profile murder case in which one defendant is a former police sergeant. Initial news reports said the judge had been shot, but police later said there was no evidence of foul play. A medical examiner ruled Monday that D'Eramo hanged himself sometime over the weekend.

The Pennsylvania native moved to the U.S.V.I. in 1985 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was a member of the law review. He intended to stay just a short time, he later told a Pennsylvania newspaper, but soon decided to remain. He was a partner in two prominent V.I. firms and president of the Virgin Islands Legal Assistance Foundation before his appointment to the bench in 2006.

D'Eramo's death sent shockwaves through the territory's close-knit legal community. "He was a great lawyer, a great guy and a great judge," one lawyer told the Virgin Islands Daily News. "The legal community is numb right now and we will certainly miss him," said another. Meanwhile, his sister, who remains in Pennsylvania, circulated an e-mail urging friends to celebrate his life. "He touched so many. If his friends would be willing to share a story on Francis' Facebook and with his family we would very much appreciate it."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 30, 2009 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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