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Chief Justice Strine resigns

No explanation given for sudden exit
July 9, 2019

Delaware Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. officially resigned from his position as the state's top judge July 8 in what he called a bittersweet decision.

In a letter to Gov. John Carney, Strine said he is prepared to continue working through the end of September or October for pension reasons, which also gives time for his replacement to be nominated, confirmed and sworn-in.

“This decision is bittersweet, as I am sure you understand, but the main emotion I feel is gratitude,” Strine wrote.

Strine, 55, does not give a reason why he is resigning; Sean O'Sullivan, chief of community relations for Delaware Courts, said the letter is the only information Strine has released.

Strine was appointed chief justice in February 2014 for a 12-year term by Gov. Jack Markell and confirmed by the Delaware Senate.

Previously, he served as chancellor of Delaware Court of Chancery from 2011-2014, and vice chancellor from 1998-2011.

Prior to joining the bench, he served as legal counsel to former Gov. Tom Carper, and before that as a corporate litigator at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Strine graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from the University of Delaware.

During his five years as chief justice, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled the state's death penalty was unconstitutional, effectively ending executions in the state. Strine also worked to revise the state's criminal code.

Strine did not say what he plans to do after retirement. “As [wife] Carrie and I move on to a new phase of our lives, I just hope that during my nearly 27 years of service to Delaware, I have contributed in some modest way to making our state stronger and more equitable,” he wrote.

Carney thanked Strine for his years of service and credited him with protecting Delaware’s reputation as the premier venue for business litigation, and working to make the state's criminal justice system more fair for all Delawareans.

“I’ve known him to be one of Delaware’s top legal minds, and a real public servant on behalf of the people of our state,” Carney said in a statement.

In his resignation letter, Strine thanked the people of Delaware for allowing him to serve the state since 1992.

“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,” said Strine. “In particular, the entire Judiciary is deeply invested in improving access to justice for all Delawareans, and doing what we can to improve the fairness of our criminal justice system.