Last Wednesday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell nominated Leo Strine Jr. as his choice to be the next Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court. It's a decision that makes a great deal of sense. Not only does he come with a reputation for hard work and a sharp legal mind, he was also the head of the Chancery Court, the country's leading forum for business-related disputes. Clearly, he has a strong sense of the company-friendly atmosphere that makes Delaware such a strong choice for incorporating your business.
But what effect will he have on corporations?
Overall he seems in-line with prevailing wisdom. Part of why he was nominated is that he has such a firm and fluid grasp on the nuances of the laws as they currently stand. However, certain key procedural differences could prove to have an effect on the way he would function in this new role.
For one, the Delaware Supreme Court generally votes unanimously. Instead of having complete control over the opinions that he writes after his rulings, Strine would be compelled to do more swaying of the rest of the bench. Whether this means that his stances will be more tempered remains to be seen, but it will no doubt be an interesting thing to watch as he moves forward.
There have been cases, in fact, where the Supreme Court overrules the Chancery Court. Thus, any change in Strine's opinions or processes could wind up having an effect on business, although it currently seems unlikely that he will bend too much. Ultimately, this promotion seems like a natural step forward: an experienced candidate taking on a more senior role.