Strine to step down as Delaware Chief Justice


Delaware Chief Justice and former Chancellor  Leo E. Strine, Jr. plans to retire.

Strine delivered the letter to  Carney on Monday.  The governor’s office announced that  Strine is on vacation and is not available for comment.

The retirement of Strine, who is in his mid-50s, will be a topic of conversation in company legal departments and large law firms, given the status of the state as a corporate law center. The Supreme Court handles appeals by the Court of Chancery.

Strine will also be in line for lucrative positions at leading corporate  law firms at his relatively young age

“I’ve known Chief Justice Strine since we worked together in the office of then-Governor Tom Carper, and I’ve known him to be one of Delaware’s top legal minds, and a real public servant on behalf of the people of our state,” said   Carney. “Since our time in Governor Carper’s office, he has served as Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor on Delaware’s Court of Chancery and as Chief Justice, leading our world-class judiciary, helping to protect Delaware’s reputation as the premier venue for business litigation, and working to make our criminal justice system more fair for all Delawareans.”

In his resignation letter, Strine expressed thanks for the opportunity to serve in the posts.

“I am also grateful, Governor, that I can say to you with confidence that the Judiciary of this state is strong, that we are addressing our challenging and diverse caseloads with diligence, skill and dispatch, and that we are continually looking for new ways to serve the people of Delaware even more effectively,” said Strine. “In particular, the entire Judiciary is deeply invested in improving access to justice for all Delawareans, and doing what we can to improve the fairness of our criminal justice system. As Carrie and I move on to a new phase of our lives, I just hope that during my nearly 27 years of service to Delaware, I have contributed in some modest way to making our state stronger and more equitable.”

Strine was appointed to his current position in February 2014 by Governor Jack Markell and confirmed by the Delaware Senate, succeeding Chief Justice Myron T. Steele, who had served in the position from 2004-2013.

Strine is known for his witty written opinions that contained musings and one-liners that were sometimes aimed at corporate chieftains. 

He was quietly criticized in some business and legal circles for moving courts in the direction of judicial activism and away from a business-friendly stance. Other claimed his witty writings poked fun at but ended up defending the status quo.

 At the same time, Strine was balancing the interests of activist stockholders and corporate management.

 He is the eighth Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court since the modern court was created in 1951. Previously, he served as Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery from 2011-2014, and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2011.

Prior to joining the bench, he served as legal counsel to then-Governor Tom Carper, and he previously served as a corporate litigator at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Strine graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and received his Bachelor’s Degree summa cum laude from the University of Delaware.

Strine intends to retire this fall.  Carney will nominate a replacement for consideration by the Delaware Senate.

Word of Strine’s retirement had been making the rounds, with columnist and former Delaware Business Times Publisher mentioning his possible exit earlier this year.

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