When I was a much-younger lawyer, I had the good fortune to have my own practice in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The federal court there is a court of original jurisdiction, and in the mid-1980s, it was straining under a backlog of cases. I remember learning that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had sent down a U.S. district judge from New Jersey, Stanley Brotman, to try to settle cases and clear some of the backlog. The word among the bar was that he kept a baseball bat next to the desk in his chambers, as an incentive. I still remember my fear when I was summoned to one of Judge Brotman’s conferences. I don’t remember what happened there, or even whether he really had a bat — all I remember is the fear going in.
Judge Brotman continued on as a visiting judge in the Virgin Islands, playing a significant role in shaping the territory’s jurisprudence. He is going on inactive status at the end of the month, as the Virgin Islands Daily News reports today, but not before the V.I. honors him this weekend with Judge Stanley S. Brotman Day.