Del. Gov Nominates Leo Strine as New Chief Judge for State Chancery Court

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The governor of Delaware has nominated a sitting Court of Chancery judge to replace retiring Chancellor William B. Chandler III as the top judge on what many consider the top business court in the country.

Leo Strine Jr. was tapped for the judicial leadership job by Gov. Jack Markell, but must still be confirmed by the state senate, according to the Associated Press and Bloomberg.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Strine was chief legal counsel to Gov. Thomas Carper before becoming a vice chancellor more than 12 years ago.

He also clerked for two federal judges and worked as an associate at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom before joining the Chancery Court bench at age 34, reports The Deal Magazine in a lengthy 2008 article about his background.

An unconventional choice for the job initially who is now considered the court’s leading voice, Strine is both the free-market believer one would expect in the job and an unabashed New Deal democrat, the magazine says. He grew up in Baltimore, the son of working-class teenage parents,

“My role as a judge is to decide cases within the framework of a constitution and common law,” says Strine himself, who is known for having an interest in politics off the bench.

“When you take on that role, your job is to do that. If you’re asking me a question about what the law is or requires, that’s a different question than an ought question,” he told the magazine. “It’s a long way to finding someone liable for giving someone a $10 million contract and being in a conversation about CEO pay.

“But I’m an American, and I don’t think it’s particularly shocking for someone to be cognizant of the growing disparity between what certain elements of our economy receive.”

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “William Chandler, Chief Judge of Delaware Chancery Court, to Retire After 25 Years on Bench”

ABAJournal.com: “Delaware Chief Judge to Join Wilson Sonsini”

Litigation Daily (American Lawyer): “In Massey Energy Ruling, Strine Questions Cravath’s ‘Awkward’ Role in Merger Talks”

The Guardian (2005): ” ‘Spleen salad? I could tick that box’ “

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