Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Gov. Markell has announced the nomination of Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, a Wilson Sonsini partner, to replace retiring Vice Chancellor Donald Parsons. Ms. Montgomery-Reeves will be the first African-American to serve as Vice Chancellor in the Chancery Court and the first woman since Justice Carolyn Berger was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1994. Ms. Montgomery-Reeves recently represented the defendants in the Riverbed Technologies litigation.
Riverbed may mark the beginning of the end for the litigation industrial complex. Vice Chancellor Glasscock began his opinion there with the following paragraph:
As a bench judge in a court of equity, much of what I do involves problems of, in a general sense, agency: insuring that those acting for the benefit of others perform with fidelity, rather than doing what comes naturally to men and women— pursuing their own interests, sometimes in ways that conflict with the interests of their principals. In this task, I am generally aided by advocates in an adversarial system, each representing the interest of his client. Of course, these counsel are themselves agents, but their actions are generally aligned with that of their principals in a way that does not require Court involvement. The area of class litigation involving the actions of fiduciaries stands apart from this general rule, however, especially in litigation like the instant case, involving the termination of ownership rights of corporate stockholders via merger. Such cases are particularly fraught with questions of agency: among others, the basic questions regarding the behavior of the fiduciaries that are the subject of the litigation; questions of meta-agency involving the adequacy of the actions of the class representative—the plaintiff—on behalf of the class; and what might be termed meta-meta-agency questions involving the motivations of counsel for the class representative in prosecuting the litigation. At each remove, there may be interests of the agent that diverge from that of the principals. This matter, involving the deceptively straightforward review of a proposed settlement, bears a full load of such freight.
While Glasscock hesitated, he signaled in this opinion that the Vice Chancellors have had enough. So... Welcome to the bench Ms. Montgomery-Reeves!