M & A Law Prof Blog

Editor: Brian JM Quinn
Boston College Law School

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


So, the Delaware Law Weekly broke news last night with a report that four people had applied for the job of Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. According to the Delaware Law Weekly, those four are: 

Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Berger, Superior Court President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr., Superior Court Judge Jan R. Jurden and Court of Chancery Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr.

The conventional wisdom has it that Leo Strine is going to get the job.  Why?  Well, because the conventional wisdom hangs around mid-town Manhattan.  Delaware is clearly concerned about its corporate law brand and certainly Chancellor Strine has a clear advantage in that area over the rest.  But the Chief's job isn't entirely about corporate law.  So, while the CW says Strine, we immediately shouldn't discount any of the others.  They are all intriging and equally plausible.  Let's give them a look.

Justice Berger would ensure continuity as she is already sitting on the court.  She is a respected jurist.  She would also be the first woman appointed to the job.  That's a big statement if the Governor wants to make it.  In addition, moving Justice Berger over to Chief would open up an associate justice job for one of the other candidates if the Governor is hestitant to appoint someone straight into the Chief's job.  Moving Justice Berger over would also make room for a second woman to join the Delaware bench.  That's an even bigger statement with lots of political upside if Markell wants to make it.

However, if the Governor were going to appoint someone right into the Chief's job, perhaps Judge Vaughn is the right one.  He is already President of the Superior Court so is familiar with the administrative duties that come along with being a chief judicial officer.   He is a criminal lawyer by training and profession, so he would also be able to represent the other (non-corporate) aspects of Delaware's jurisprudunce.

On the other hand, there is my favorite dark horse - Judge Jan Jurden.  She is a judge on the Superior Court and a military verteran, so she wouldn't be likely to take any gruff from sitting justices were she to be appointed. She also has had a broad set of experiences.  She has held a number of judicial administrative positions over the years - overseeing the Mental Health Court, the Conflict Attorney Program.  She was previously both a Civil and Criminal Adaministrative Judge.  And, she is presently a member of the Superior Court's Complex Commercial Litigation Division.  To top it off, in 1989 she was on the legal team that represented Paramount before the Delaware Supreme Court in Paramount v Time. She ultimately had a 13 year career as a litigator at Young, Conway before departing for the bench.

Anyway, don't believe anything you hear.  Nobody knows nothing for now.



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