Business group: Carney must appoint judge of color to replace Slights

Betsy Price Government, Headlines

gavelWith Delaware Chancery Court’s Joseph R. Slights III retiring, a pro-business group is mounting a campaign to have a person of color appointed to the panel of now all-white judges.

Vice Chancellor Slights’ retirement came to light when the court began telling lawyers that their cases would be reassigned because of it, according to an article on Slights confirmed his retirement to Law360, but referred questions to the courts.

“Vice Chancellor Slights has been a tremendous asset to our court and, indeed, our State; he will be sorely missed,” said a statement from the office of Chancellor Kathaleen St. J. McCormick.

“The Vice Chancellor has done us the courtesy of announcing his retirement well in advance of his anticipated end date, which he has not yet selected, so that we can ensure an orderly transition.  Per the usual process, the timeline for posting his position and selecting and confirming his replacement will be established by Judicial Nominating Commission, the office of the Governor, and the State Senate.”

Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware on Thursday announced it will launch a $250,000 advocacy campaign for Gov. John Carney to appoint a person of color to the court.

“The days of an all-white Chancery Court are over,” said Chris Coffey, the campaign manager for the pro-business group. “It’s time for Governor Carney to appoint a person of color immediately.”

The Chancery Court has not always been all-white. Judge Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, who is Black, served on the court for four years before moving to the Delaware Supreme Court in 2019.

Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware and its interest in Delaware courts rose in the wake of the Transperfect case before the Delaware Chancery Court.

In that case, the Shawe family that owned the language translation company were angry over the court’s order that it must be sold, which it was to owner Phil Shawe.

Since then, members of the Shawe family and the  Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware have worked against Gov. John Carney’s election and been critical of Delaware courts in general and the  Chancery Court specifically.

The organization has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for changes, including more diversity on the courts, and protesting the $3.9 million in fees that Custodian Robert Pincus’ and Skadden Arps — a vast American international law firm —  charged during the Transperfect court battle.

According to a biography on the Washington & Lee University of School of Law, Slights was sworn in as a vice chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery on March 28, 2016.

He had been a partner in the Delaware law firm Morris James, where he practiced corporate and business litigation and chaired the firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice group.

Prior to that, he served a 12-year term as a judge on the Superior Court of Delaware helping form the court’s complex commercial litigation division.

Earlier, he was a litigator in the Delaware law firms Sidney Balick P.A. and with Richards Layton & Finger.

Slights is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Association and the Delaware Bar Association. He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and past-president of the Richard S. Rodney Inn of Court.

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