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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Summer 2008


Robert D. Thompson, Jr.

It is with much sadness that the Judicial Branch notes the passing of former Chief Judge of the Family Court Robert D. Thompson, Jr. on April 5, 2008. Chief Judge Thompson served as the head of the Family Court from November 1, 1974 until he retired on January 31, 1992. His time as chief judge marked a period of growth and innovation for the Family Court. Early in his tenure, the court’s jurisdiction was enhanced with the addition of ancillary, annulment and divorce matters, which had previously been heard by the Superior Court. In 1977, Masters (who have since been replaced by the current position of Commissioner) were authorized to hear misdemeanors and conduct bond hearings and arraignments. In addition, under his leadership, new courthouses for the Family Court were designed and constructed in each county. He also led the development of the first set of comprehensive court rules for the Family Court and directed the initiation of the current statewide CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program as a pilot project in New Castle County. In 1986, he received the Franklin N. Flaschner Award for the most outstanding judge of a court of special jurisdiction from the American Bar Association National Conference of Special Court Judges.

Chief Judge Thompson was a native of Sussex County and a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Maryland Law School. Prior to becoming chief judge, he worked in private practice in Georgetown and served as a judge on the Family Court.

Legislation has been passed to honor Chief Judge Robert D. Thompson, Jr. by naming the Sussex County Family Courthouse after him.