Vice Chancellor Glasscock to retire as candidates, activist group call for more diverse court

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Delaware Chancery Cout 1-4-2019 Vice Chancellor Sam Grasscock III credit photograph by Eric Crossan 302-378-1700

(See formal announcement below)

Delaware Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock will retire from the state’s business court, effective at the end of 2024.

The pending retirement of Glasscock was disclosed on Thursday during a legislative hearing and made national news. Chancery is the nation’s top business state business court.

The news led Citizens for Judicial Fairness released the following statement demanding that the new Delaware Court of Chancery vacancy created by the retirement of Glasscock be filled with a person of color.

“The Delaware Court of Chancery is the nation’s premiere business court, and its rulings affect thousands of companies, millions of workers and billions of dollars across America every year. Given this enormous reach and influence, it is unconscionable that in 2024 not one person of color sits on this extraordinarily important bench. The exclusion of Black and Brown judges is a grave injustice that silences voices and views that deserve to be heard. Now is the moment to right this dangerous wrong. Delaware’s leaders — from Governor Carney to the State Legislature — must stand up today and promise to add urgently-needed diversity to this court, and reverse the glaring, harmful absence of representation on one of most powerful legal institutions in the country.”

Gubernatorial hopefuls Colin O’Mara and Matt Meyer also called for a more diverse Chancery Court. O’Mara, a former state environmental secetary is weighing a bid for governor. Meyer, the New Castle County executive facing term limits, is squareing off against Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long in the Democratic primary race.

The Delaware Court of Chancery is America’s has no people of color among its judges. It had one Black vice-chancellor who later moved to the state Supreme Court and more recently to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Chancery typically handles corporate discputes and rarely touches on diversity issues. The one exception was a court member overturning the state’s school funding formula and the lack of reassessments of property used to finance public schools. The formula was said to have discriminated against poor school districts with a high percentage of minority students.

Citizens for Judicial Fairness and its predecessor Citizens for a Pro Business Delaware have been linked to TransPerfect owner Philip Shawe. The sale of the translation service company ended up in Chancery after Shawe could not reach an agreement to buy the 50% share of the company owned by his former fiancee. Shawe prevailed but has continued to contest the fees paid to the Chancery-appointed custodian who handled the sale.

Shawe, like Tesla CEO Elon Musk has critized the court and moved TransPerfect’s incorporation to Nevada. Chancery recently ruled in favor of a stockholder in a suit that claimed Musk’s $56 bilion pay package was excessive and that board members granting the deal were not independent and had close ties to the billionaire.

Civil rights leader the Rev Al Sharpton and Keandra McDole, who had a family member fatally shot by Wilmington Police, have been enlisted to make the case for more diverstify in the state’s court system. Sharpton, a friend of President Joe Biden, has reportedly pressed the president to support Citizens’ position.

The state’s judiciary has acknowledged the need for more diversity. At the same time, memberes of the legal community say there have been few if any persons of color apply for a spot on Chancery Court. Corporate lawyers with the expertise to serve on the court are typically paid far more than the chancellor and vice chancellors.

Retired chancellors have often moved to the practice of corporate law, moves that Shawe and Citizens have harshly criticized.