Reuters has reported that Chief Justice Myron Steele will be retiring from the Delaware Supreme Court on November 30.
Steele, first appointed to the Supreme Court in 2000, has served as its chief justice since 2004. According to a spokesperson for Governor Jack Markell, Steele—whose term did not expire until 2016—did not identify a specific reason for his retirement in a letter announcing the decision to the governor.
Wilmington attorney Michael Kelly told Reuters that the retiring chief justice is "smart and tough" and "will be sorely missed." Reporters also spoke to law professor Larry Hamermesh of Widener University, who praised Steele for carrying on the tradition of making regular appearances at legal conferences to explain Delaware's laws and promote a positive image of its courts.
"He is sort of an ambassador of the state really, because what the courts do is so important," Hamermesh said.
Reuters contributor Tom Hals noted that the reputation of the state's judiciary is one of the key factors that drives so many businesses to incorporate in Delaware. According to the state Division of Corporations, more than half of all publicly traded companies based in the United States have made Delaware their legal home.
Governor Markell said he will ask the Judicial Nominating Commission to prepare a recommendation before Steele officially vacates his office. Media reports indicate that Leo Strine, the chancellor of the Court of Chancery, which handles business disputes, is seen as a front-runner for the nomination. Before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Steele served as vice chancellor of the Court of Chancery.