Delaware's respected Chancellor William Chandler is stepping down from his position as chief judge of the Chancery Court. Francis Pileggi reports that:
Chancellor William B. Chandler III of the Delaware Court of Chancery formally notified the Governor today that he is resigning before the completion of his current 12-year term. ... Here is the article in today's News Journal by Maureen Milford.
Delaware court- watchers are aware that the process to fill the figurative "big shoes" of the "chief judge" of the Court of Chancery will be as follows: (1) The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) will interview applicants for the position and then send the Governor a list of proposed names of persons they selected and from which (2) the governor usually makes his appointment--though he has the power to appoint someone not on the JNC's list, or he can ask the JNC to send him a new list. (3) Then the Delaware Senate either confirms or rejects the appointment.
Chandler has written many important and influential opinions during his tenure, such as the Disney case challenging Michael Ovitz's pay. As a BoardMember.com piece recently observed:
From a two-story brick colonial courthouse in Georgetown, Delaware, that has been likened to Hollywood’s mythical small town of Mayberry, Chandler has ruled for two decades on the highest stakes and most factually tortuous disputes between shareholders and directors, corporate raiders and defenders. He was elevated to the Chancery bench in 1989 and became chancellor in 1997. ...
Chandler’s most famous decision, delivered in 2005 in the Walt Disney case, exemplifies the tension between Delaware’s traditionally wide berth for directors and officers and the growing consciousness of shareholder rights and demands for best practice. The chancellor let Disney’s board off the hook, but used the occasion to condemn company CEO Michael Eisner as “Machiavellian and imperial” and warned that, “For the future, many lessons of what not to do can be learned from defendants’ conduct here.” Chandler ruminated at length about a “fiduciary duty of good faith” that directors might violate by “a conscious disregard for one’s responsibilities.” This significantly, if somewhat vaguely, raised the bar for board members’ conduct beyond the long-established duties of “care and loyalty.” ...
Chandler himself is widely revered as a scholar and a gentleman.... Chandler’s opinions are “entertaining to read,” Yale’s Romano says, with erudite references to authors like Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll. In one recent decision, Chandler footnoted Macbeth to underline a chaotic line of reasoning by the plaintiff. Moreover, the chancellor’s courtroom demeanor is courteous and unruffled. “He is one of the most even-keeled people I have ever met,” one seasoned Delaware litigator observes.
You can count me as an admirer. Not only am I highly impressed by his opinions, he has been unfailingly gracious whenever we've met. A true scholar and gentleman.
And now we can begin to speculate on who will replace him. I wonder if the Judicial Nominating Commission has ever considered a California academic for the job?