WILMINGTON, Del, June 6 (Reuters) - Delaware Gov. Jack Markell nominated corporate lawyer Karen Valihura to become the second woman to serve on the state’s Supreme Court, which plays a key role in interpreting the law that shapes Wall Street dealmaking.
Valihura, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, will serve a 12-year term on the five-member court. She will replace Jack Jacobs, who retires on June 24.
If confirmed by the Delaware Senate, Valihura, 51, will be the third sitting Supreme Court justice to have spent time at Skadden, which has been criticized for having too much influence on Delaware courts. Chief Justice Leo Strine and Carolyn Berger, the only woman to serve on the court, also worked at the firm.
A majority of U.S. companies that have publicly traded stock incorporate in Delaware, which gives the companies access to the state’s courts and its law that governs relations between management and shareholders.
Valihura’s practice involves a range of corporate and commercial litigation. She worked on behalf of the firm Cantor Fitzgerald in the wake of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, when more than 600 Cantor staff were killed.
Markell selected Valihura from a list of four candidates from the Judicial Nominating Committee, according to a report in the Wilmington News Journal.
The other candidates reportedly included Jan Jurden, a Superior Court judge who was once seen as a front runner for a Supreme Court seat. However, earlier this year she became embroiled in controversy after it emerged that in 2009 she sentenced an heir to the du Pont fortune to probation, rather than prison, for raping his three-year-old daughter. (Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by David Gregorio)