| DOVER, Del.
DOVER, Del. Jan 29 The outspoken head of the
state's nationally important business court was confirmed
unanimously as the chief justice of Delaware's Supreme Court on
Wednesday after breezing through legislative approval.
Leo Strine was confirmed by a 20-0 vote in the state
Senate's Executive Committee. He said he expected to be sworn in
as chief justice in the coming weeks.
Strine is the chancellor, or chief judge, of the state's
Court of Chancery, which handles business affairs and disputes.
That state court is especially important in the U.S. because
most publicly traded companies in the country incorporate in
He brings to the high court a national reputation as a
workaholic judge who regularly displays his mastery of the
state's corporate law through his lengthy opinions.
During his confirmation hearing, the State Senate Executive
Committee questioned him mostly on narrow issues such as court
administration and the decriminalization of fishing violations
for taking undersized flounder.
Strine said he would spend his first year on the high court
taking the temperature of the state's judiciary.
"My intention is, if things go well today, to spend as much
time as I can in the next year to listen to, first and foremost,
to the current members of the Supreme Court. To find out why
things are the way they are," he said.
The committee briefly touched upon one mild controversy: the
state's novel private arbitration system, which allowed
businesses to bring disputes to the Court of Chancery for
confidential resolution by one of the five judges.
A federal court in Philadelphia found the arbitration
violated the U.S. Constitution's presumption that civil trials
must be public, and shut the system down in 2012. The state
filed an appeal last week with the U.S. Supreme Court, with
Strine named as the petitioner.
"Those who know me know I don't like to lose, especially
when I'm a named defendant," he said.
He described the arbitration system as key way for the state
to remain competitive in what he called the state's most
important industry -- chartering businesses -- and to cut court
Strine stressed that the state needed to remain a go-to
venue for business disputes as more companies consider
incorporating in places such as Bermuda or Hong Kong. The
industry brings in fees and income that accounts for up to 40
percent of Delaware's general budget revenue.
"That's where we need to remain competitive," he told the
Strine has stood out in the often dull world of corporate
law for his courtroom asides ranging from pop culture to the
behavior of Wall Street bankers.
He made what has become his signature joke -- about his
baldness -- three times during the hearing.
His tendency to speak his mind, however, has also landed him
in hot water. In 2012, a transcript from a routine scheduling
conference highlighted an awkward attempt to use religion for
With Strine's confirmation, speculation will begin about his
successor on the Court of Chancery.
Many have focused their attention on Andre Bouchard of
Bouchard Margules & Friedlander in Wilmington. The firm has
represented the state in federal courts, and Bouchard chaired
the judicial nominating committee that sent Strine's name to
Governor Jack Markell.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by