Breaking News: Delaware’s Chief Supreme Court Justice, and Bouchard’s Former Skadden Intern, Leo Strine Steps Down
Wow, Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, protégé, intern, and protector of Chancellor Andre Bouchard and law partner with him at Skadden Arps (the infamous law firm, which has been fined by the U.S. government for illegal lobbying), is stepping down with half his term unfinished! I wonder if the shame and disgrace of the perceived TransPerfect heist happening under his watch had played a role? Could he have been forced out based on Delaware’s plummeting rating for business and also possibly because of allegations of serious irregularities?? Could a scandal be coming that Strine knows about???
Strine, in a nonsensical majority opinion, upheld Bouchard’s ridiculous rulings on appeal because as I see it folks, he’s Bouchard’s pal in fleecing TransPerfect under the guise of “deadlock” at a wildly successful corporation. Remember, the only female jurist, Justice Valihura (a non-member of the old boys club) wrote a brilliant dissenting opinion establishing the illegality of Bouchard’s ruling under Delaware law and the U.S. Constitution.
While he may have political ambitions, in my opinion, these are a pipe-dream based on the many skeletons in Strine’s closet. Further, in my view, TransPerfect has defined his and Bouchard’s administrations. As I have been saying for the past few years, their handling of this case from my perspective has been a disgrace, a farce, and the shame of Delaware. Make no mistake, in my mind, TransPerfect is huge part of the reason Strine is stepping down.
Could Strine know something is amiss? He and Bouchard, very plainly in my view, usurped and engineered the outcome of the TransPerfect case to enrich their former law partners and good ole boy cronies. To me, Bouchard is clearly the puppet master, and still in charge of his former underling, Strine. Delaware would be a thousand times better off if Bouchard would agree to step down as well.
Regardless, they both reek of improprieties in my opinion. Good riddance Strine! Please feel free to take, what I consider, your “Bonnie & Clyde” partner, Andre Bouchard with you! Let’s make room for Karen Valihura as Chief Justice!!! She makes her decisions based on respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. She is the polar opposite of Strine and Bouchard, honest and dedicated. Valihura has the endorsement of the Coastal Network, that is for sure.
To my way of thinking, Strine and Bouchard are a disgrace. I will continue to share that opinion. One down, folks. One to go!
The Delaware Judiciary needs a fresh start!
Please read the breaking news article below from the “Delaware News Journal” and Sam Waltz’s article in the “Delaware Business Times” (written in May!) just below it.
As always your comments are welcome and appreciated.
JUDSON Bennett-Coastal Network
Leo Strine, Delaware Supreme Court’s chief justice, to step down
Delaware News Journal
Published 3:43 p.m. ET July 8, 2019 | Updated 4:08 p.m. ET July 8, 2019
Leo E. Strine Jr., Delaware’s witty and sometimes controversial Supreme Court chief justice, is stepping down from the bench with about half of his term remaining.
Strine delivered his resignation letter to Gov. John Carney on Monday, stating that he plans to retire in the fall. The press release from the governor’s office did not detail why Strine plans to step down.
Strine’s spokesman said the chief justice is on vacation and not available for comment.
“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,” Strine wrote in his resignation letter.
He was nominated to a 12-year-term by former Gov. Jack Markell in 2014, replacing former Chief Justice Myron Steele.
During his tenure, the court invalidated the state’s death penalty and ruled on controversial land use issues including the development of Barley Mill Plaza in Greenville and weighed in on billion-dollar business disputes.
Delaware Chief Justice Leo Strine in March 2015. (Photo: The News Journal)
Before his appointment to the state’s highest court, Strine served as a judge and chancellor on Delaware’s Court of Chancery from 1998 where he developed a reputation as a huge personality in the world of corporate law.
Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine questions an appellant before the court. (Photo: XERXES WILSON/THE NEWS JOURNAL)
Strine grew up in Hockessin and, in the private sector, was a corporate litigator for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, one of the largest law firms in the country.
Prior to his time on Chancery, he was counsel to former Gov. Tom Carper, who is now a longtime Delaware U.S. senator.
Rumors of his potential departure have been circulating for months, partially fueled by him not hiring legal clerks for the upcoming court calendar.
His stepping down begins a process in which current Gov. John Carney will nominate his successor, a dance that will be watched closely by legal and corporate circles around the world given Delaware’s prominence in business.
NEXT ARTICLE BY SAM WALTZ:
Sam Waltz: Strine to Retire Soon?
May 13, 2019 on Hon. Leo Strine Jr.,
By Sam Waltz (Founding Publisher) in Delaware Business Times
The widely anticipated early retirement of Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. seems to be the state’s “worst-kept secret,” rivaling Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential hopes, and is being discussed openly in some of the state’s loftiest circles.
I’ve reached out to the Chief Justice for comment. I’ve not heard back from him, and frankly I didn’t expect to. He’ll make his announcement on his own schedule, and he deserves to.
He’s accomplished a lot for a mid-career legal counselor, just 55, even more than prestigious jurists 20 years older.
But failing to recognize and perhaps even memorialize the rampant speculation would be journalistic malpractice.
So, at the risk of preempting His Honor, here we are. (I’ve known Leo’s mother and father, a banker and a wealth manager respectively, for years, even longer than I’ve known Leo, but I’d never put them in the awkward position of asking them about it.)
Buttressing this massive speculation — which I first heard two months ago — is the fact that he has not hired any clerks for the court’s next calendar year, which begins in September .
Ordinarily that occurs before the end of the previous year, when such clerks are interviewed and hired. They are prestigious positions, and, in Delaware, it’s not unusual for former clerks themselves to ultimately ascend to the bench.
So far, I’ve chatted about this with some of the state’s highest officials and former officials, about a dozen of them, in the judiciary, in Legislative Hall and even in the lobbying corps and prominent members of Delaware’s bar. Everyone seems to have had heard it, but each asked for anonymity — no one wants to get caught spilling the Chief Justice’s secrets — and then went on to discuss it openly.
Chief Justice Leo Strine assumed office on Feb. 28, 2014, succeeding retiring Chief Justice Myron T. Steele. Previously, he’d served on the Court of Chancery since 1998, appointed there by Gov. Tom Carper, whom he had served as legal counsel. He ascended to head the court as Chancellor in 2011, before he was moved to the Supreme Court in 2014 by Gov. Jack Markell.
(Note, too, that in Delaware, even going on the Bench requires significant ambition. Attorneys must apply to the Judicial Nominating Commission, be interviewed, and be recommended to the governor for the position. It’s not a process for the reticent or modest!)
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He grew up in Hockessin, where his parents and his family still live, and he graduated A.I. du Pont High School in Greenville. He served in some prestigious legal clerkships himself and worked for the prestigious Skadden Arps firm before joining Gov. Carper.
The two big questions on all minds now seem to be …
• When will he announce his retirement?
• What will he do next?
Dealing with the second question first, two things are mentioned.
First, people with his background and accomplishments make a huge personal financial sacrifice in serving on the bench, although it does advance their billing rates when they re-enter private practice.
It’s not out of the realm of the expected to anticipate that Chief Justice Strine could and would pull in $1 million a year, perhaps even more, in private practice. And part of the speculative reason is that he’s at the stage with young adults heading off to college, so his family would benefit from the change.
Beyond that, though, one or two speculated that he really wants to be governor one day, and a lucrative legal career would secure his family’s future for a return to public service in an elected role.
Certainly, he’ll have some competition if he runs in 2024 when the Democrat establishment thinks Gov. Carney will complete his second term. Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro and Rep. Bryan Townsend are among the dozen or
so names prominently mentioned as prospective Carney successors.
As to the question of when he’ll announce, well…
Speculation centers on the Delaware Bar Association’s annual Bench & Bar Conference, convened at the direction of the Chief Justice himself, this year at 8:30 am on June 14 at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Interestingly, theme of this year’s conference is “Pathways and Reflections: Adventures in Law.”
“All of us think it will be there, at the Bench & Bar conference,” said one of the state’s highest-placed officials. “Many of us will already be standing, so Leo will automatically have a standing ovation when he announces.”
Historically, that conference had an afternoon-evening component, and that would have taken place later in the day. This year, it starts in the morning, so we’ll see what works out.