36 Intriguing Delawareans • Leo Strine
Chief Justice of Delaware Supreme Court
Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine easily builds the case for what’s good about the state’s judicial system: a unified culture (including working across organizational lines for the best results), a drive to improve productivity (there’s a 10-year partnership with the University of Delaware’s Lerner College of Business and Economics) a private-public partnership for the smooth digital flow of information and a bipartisan judiciary of “sensible people who treat each case seriously and come to fair decisions, blessedly compared to other politicized states.”
He bluntly builds the case for key issues that must be confronted by courts, politicians who control the money and every other stakeholder. Is the First State still corporate America’s first choice? Yes. High numbers of firms choose “Delaware to incorporate in for its reliable and accountable corporate law,” which strikes “a fair balance between managers and investors.” Do courts drive the economy and are then worth infrastructure investments? Yes. “Imagine downtown Wilmington without law firms” near courts. And don’t forget outdated Family Court and downstate facilities. Can the courts solve society’s woes alone? No. “The judiciary is [merely] the end point of a lot of societal failure,” he says. “We can’t incarcerate our way to safety,” he told the state bar association in 2015.
Strine, 53, grew up in Hockessin and was recruited to play soccer at the University of Delaware, where he was drawn to politics, starting as a campaign volunteer for Tom Carper. Strine has devoted his adulthood to law, as a court clerk, litigator, Court of Chancery judge, lecturer, author and adjunct professor, emphasizing corporate law in many of those roles. He was also legal counsel and policy coordinator to Carper, who awarded him the Order of the First State for jobs well done. In 2014, he was appointed to a 12-year term as chief justice. In a 2005 Delaware Journal of Corporate law article, he emphasized this motivation: “the continued worthiness of the liberal vision of a just society.”