October 24, 2019 / 9:34 PM / 19 days ago

First African-American nominated for Delaware Supreme Court

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - Delaware Governor John Carney nominated on Thursday the first African-American to serve on the state’s supreme court and also nominated a current member of the court to take over as chief justice, filling a vacancy due to the retirement of Leo Strine.

Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, who was the first African-American vice chancellor or judge on the state’s Court of Chancery, will join the state’s top court if she is confirmed by the state’s senate.

The Delaware Supreme Court interprets the state’s widely used corporate law and the court’s rulings shape corporate governance and Wall Street dealmaking.

It hears appeals from the Court of Chancery, which often decides high-profile corporate and shareholder battles like last year’s lawsuit by German healthcare group Fresenius SE to walk away from its $4.8 billion proposed takeover of rival drugmaker Akorn Inc.

A majority of the Fortune 500 companies are chartered in Delaware, in part because of its well-understood corporate law and courts, even though most have no real operations in the state.

Delaware is one of only 13 states that has never had a non-white justice serve on its supreme court, according to a July study by The Brennan Center for Justice. The study used data dating back to 1960.

Carney nominated Collins Seitz, who joined the Delaware Supreme Court as an associate justice in 2015, to become chief justice, filling the position held by the outspoken Strine for the last five years.

Seitz was a corporate litigator and founding member of Delaware-based Seitz Ross Aronstam & Moritz.

Montgomery-Reeves was confirmed to the Court of Chancery in 2016, joining the court from the Wilmington office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati where she focussed on corporate governance and corporate litigation.

Both nominations will be considered by the Delaware Senate on Nov. 7, according to the governor’s statement.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Richard Chang

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