Delaware Supreme Court justices in 2011 (Berger second from left)
The judiciary in Delaware is important for U.S. corporations given that a large number of public companies listing the state as their legal address and incorporated there.
So when there are changes on the state’s top courts, businesses – and especially general counsels – tend to watch, carefully.
It was announced this week, for instance, that Carolyn Berger, a justice on the Delaware Supreme Court, will retire on Sept. 1. She has been on the court since 1994, and was the first woman on the Delaware Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court.
In a statement on Monday, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said Berger “‘broke through the glass ceiling’ not once but twice.”
“For more than three decades, Justice Carolyn Berger has served the State of Delaware with distinction as a member of the finest judiciary in the nation,” the governor added in his statement. “Justice Berger is a trailblazing jurist whose commitment to justice is second to none. I salute her for her service to the State of Delaware and wish her all the best as she moves toward retirement.”
Berger worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and was a deputy state attorney general before being named a judge.
In a related matter, Markell recently nominated Karen Valihura to replace Jack Jacobs, who will leave the Delaware Supreme Court this month. Valihura also formerly worked at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Justices Randall Holland and Henry duPont Ridgely may retire in the near future because both have reached 24 years of service as state judges to be eligible for pensions.
In 2013, Chief Justice Myron Steele retired. He was replaced by Leo Strine, who was chief judge of the Court of Chancery. Andre Bouchard, a practicing attorney, replaced Strine.
And when it comes to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., Peter J. Walsh plans to retire on Jan. 1. Because Delaware is home to so many companies, and the site of major corporate restructurings, there is great interest here, as well, as who may take his post.
Walsh became a judge in 1993, and was one of two bankruptcy judges in the state. He was called “irreplaceable” by colleagues.
“Judge Walsh joined the bench when Judge Helen Balick had been the sole judge for years, and he complemented and continued the depth and experience of the Delaware bankruptcy bench,” Laura Davis Jones of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones told Bankruptcy Beat. “His intelligence, experience and dry wit are unmatched.”