Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr.

Longest-serving Superior Court judge to retire

Charlie Megginson Government, Headlines

Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr.

Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr.

Delaware’s longest-serving Superior Court judge will retire after 30 years on the bench, court administrators announced Wednesday.

Judge William Carpenter Jr. will step down Dec. 31, 2022, he said in a letter to Gov. John Carney in October.

“While it is always difficult to walk away from a job that you have found so rewarding, my time has come,” Carpenter wrote to Carney. “I want to thank you for the confidence you have shown in me and for allowing me the privilege of serving as a jurist in what I believe is the best judiciary in the nation.”

Carpenter’s public service spans more than 47 years — 30 with the Superior Court and 17 as a federal prosecutor, including serving as U.S. Attorney for Delaware from 1985 to 1993.

First nominated to Superior Court in 1993 by then-Gov. Tom Carper, Carpenter was reappointed in 2005 by then-Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and again in 2017 by Carney.

Carpenter presided over several high-profile criminal and civil cases, including the prosecution of former State Auditor Kathy McGuiness, the cases against 19 individuals accused in the 2017 riot at the Vaughn Correctional Center that resulted in the death of Sgt. Steven Floyd, and the 2011 prosecution of pediatrician Earl Bradley for the rape and sexual abuse of his young patients.

Carpenter also oversaw a number of death penalty cases including the prosecution of Brian Steckel, who was executed in 2005 and was the last person put to death by the state before Delaware’s death penalty law was declared unconstitutional in the wake of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

He served for six years in the Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division, handling cases involving significant corporate disputes.

Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden said in a press release that Carpenter devoted decades of his life to the administration of justice.

“He has served this Court, the judiciary and our state with the utmost distinction,” Jurden said. “His legacy will be one of selfless service, leadership, adherence to the rule of law, integrity, collegiality, and hard work.”

In June 2021, Carpenter was awarded the Delaware State Bar Association’s highest honor — the First State Distinguished Service Award.

The award was given in recognition of the respect Carpenter brought to the legal profession and the Delaware Bar through his “good citizenship in civic and humanitarian service” and his many years advancing “the ideals of citizen participation and community accomplishment.”

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