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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Fall 2012

Delaware Judiciary Recognized

A new national survey released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform ranks the Delaware State Courts as the best in the country. The survey gives Delaware its first place overall ranking for the ninth consecutive time since its inception in 2002. Delaware judges were ranked first in the country in their impartiality and competency, among other key elements reviewed by the survey. The significance of a state's legal climate on business expansion decisions has steadily increased over the last five years. Seven out of ten respondents say a state's lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their businesses. This represents a 13 percent increase from the survey results just five years ago.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron T. Steele began his one-year term as President of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors in August 2012. CCJ is comprised of the top judicial officers of each state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. CCJ's mission is to promote the interests and effectiveness of state judicial systems by developing policies and educational programs designed to improve court operation. The CCJ also acts as the primary representative of the state courts before Congress and federal executive agencies.

Chief Justice Steele recently accompanied the President of the American Bar Association on a visit to Australia. During the visit the Chief Justice gave an address on some of the 'hot topics' in corporate law and governance in the United States at a seminar presented by the Law Institute of Victoria (Law Institute), in association with the Law Council of Australia (Council), among other presentations. The invitation from the Law Institute and Council noted the Supreme Court of Delaware's worldwide reputation as a respected source of corporate law decisions, particularly in the area of mergers and acquisitions.

Chief Justice Steele received the 2012 U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform Judicial Leadership Award in October 2012. The annual Legal Reform Awards honor individuals and organizations whose outstanding work has contributed to making America's civil justice system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. Chief Justice Steele was recognized for his leadership, outstanding and progressive reputation, continuing efforts "to accomplish great things for the Delaware Supreme Court and [to] provide an example to which other judiciaries may aspire," and his support of adequate court funding. The highly regarded Delaware Supreme Court, under Justice Steele's guidance, is "recognized for its business ethics and as one of the top 100 most influential players in corporate governance," and has "solidified its reputation as the exemplar for direction and sound management."

Chief Justice Myron T. Steele and other members of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery were again named to the National Association of Corporate Directors 100 most influential leaders in the corporate governance community. These honorees were recognized for their influential leadership and commitment to upholding the highest standards and best practices in corporate governance. This is the sixth year that Chief Justice Steele and other members of the Delaware Judiciary have been named on the list of 100 most influential leaders in corporate governance.

Supreme Court Justice Randy J. Holland was presented with the 2012 First State Distinguished Service Award -- the highest award conferred by the Delaware State Bar Association. James McGiffin, President of the Bar, stated that the award honors a person "who, by exemplary leadership and service dedicated to the cause of good citizenship in civic and humanitarian service over a period of many years has maintained the integrity and honored recognition of the legal profession in community affairs and who, as an outstanding Delawarean, unceasingly advances the ideals of citizen participation and community accomplishment, thus reflecting High Honor on both country and profession." The presentation was made to Justice Holland at a dinner during the Delaware Bench and Bar Conference. Over 400 judges and lawyers were in attendance.

Asia-Pacific Forum
Pictured above: Anton Ivanov, Chief Justice of the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation; Bektas Beknazarov, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan; Nikolay Mamontov, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan; and Justice Henry duPont Ridgely of the Delaware Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely was a plenary speaker on "Recent Developments in Delaware Corporate Law" at the Asia-Pacific Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on September 14, 2012. Judges, lawyers and legal scholars from Australia, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malyasia, Mongolia, Russia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States traditionally take part in this judicial forum which has been conducted annually since 2007 under the sponsorship of the Supreme Commercial Court of the Russian Federation. The forum has become an international venue to share experience, to study the legal and economic systems of the countries of the region, and to discuss vital issues involving the judicial protection of rights. The title of the event was "Corporate Law: Best Practices for Regulation and Resolution of Disputes."

Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. was elected Chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges. He is the first Delaware judge to hold this leadership position. NCSTJ is the oldest and largest organization of general jurisdiction state trial judges in the nation and is an advocate for nationwide issues affecting trial judges. Judge Carpenter related that "this is a critical time for many courts throughout the country with reduction in funding and attacks by groups who believe a court is ruling inconsistent with their political, religious or social beliefs. As such, the mission of the conference will be to not only improve the administration of justice but to promote the public's understanding of our judicial system to ensure that the third branch of our government remains independent and is free to rule fairly and impartially." On June 2, 2012, Judge Carpenter was inducted into the University of Delaware Wall of Fame.  This award recognizes outstanding professional and public service achievements by UD graduates.  Since the award's inception in 1984, only 239 University of Delaware alumni have received this honor.

Superior Court Judge Jan R. Jurden has been selected by the Judges' Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative (JLI) to participate in the October 2012 Train-the-Trainer session at the American Psychiatric Association's Institute on Psychiatric Services. JLI's invitation recognizes Judge Jurden's leadership ability and dedication to mental health issues. The training provides judges with knowledge on how mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders and criminogenic risk factors are likely to impact an individual's interactions with the criminal justice system. Additionally, relevant procedural options, ethical considerations, and effective collaborative treatment and supervision strategies will be discussed. The goal of the train-the-trainer session is for the selected trainers to deliver training to future judicial audiences.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrea Rocanelli has been selected as one of twenty-five attendees at the upcoming National Judicial College's Symposium which will focus on drug addiction. Judge Rocanelli, who was nominated by Chief Justice Steele to attend this symposium, stated: "I am looking forward to this opportunity to further improve the Court of Common Pleas' Drug Diversion program."   

Justice of the Peace Court Judge Stanley Petraschuk has accepted an appointment as a United States Administrative Law Judge. After nearly 24 years of service with the Justice of the Peace Court in New Castle County, Judge Petraschuk left the Court on September 21, 2012 to take his new position in Charleston, West Virginia.