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CONFERENCE OF CHIEF JUSTICES MIDYEAR MEETING HELD IN DELAWARE

"The Delaware hosts outdid themselves!  The CCJ 2012 midyear meeting ranks among one of the best—stellar education sessions,  flawless execution, and opportunities to experience the many charms and attractions that make the State of Delaware First in the Nation! Franny Haney, Pat Griffin, Amy Quinlan and their wonderful staffs were all were super efficient, detail-oriented and a joy to work alongside."

Brenda Williams, Association Manager for the Conference of Chief Justices

Chief Justice Myron T. Steele hosted the 2012 Midyear Meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) in Wilmington, Delaware. Delaware was selected over Puerto Rico as the locale for the January conference on Chief Justice Steele’s assurance that there would be palm trees in Wilmington. And there were palm trees (chocolate ones) offered to CCJ guests at the conference.

This is the first time that Delaware has hosted the full Conference of Chief Justices. The Conference of Chief Justices was founded in 1949 to provide an opportunity for the highest judicial officers of the states to meet and discuss matters of importance in improving the administration of justice, rules and methods of procedure, and the organization and operation of state courts and judicial systems, and to make recommendations and bring about improvements on such matters.

Attendees from across the country participated in the four‐day conference which included a dynamic educational program focusing on “Commercial and Business Law” with renowned speakers and panelists from the United States and abroad, including Lord Peter Goldsmith, a Partner of Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, of London, England, and Ellen J. Kullman, Chair of the Board and CEO of the Du‐Pont Company.

Panel
CCJ President Washington (Chief Judge, D.C. Court of Appeals), Chief Justice Steele, Governor Markell, Attorney General Biden, and Mayor Baker welcome the Conference of Chief Justices to Delaware.

After their arrival on Saturday, January 28, 2012, the attendees and their guests enjoyed a Law and Literature session and welcome reception hosted by Delaware’s Secretary of State, Jeffrey W. Bullock, at the Buena Vista State Conference Center. Attendees were treated to an informative presentation given by Simmie Knox, nationally acclaimed portrait artist.

Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington, President of the Conference of Chief Justices, presided over the official opening ceremony on Sunday, January 29, 2012 at the Hotel DuPont. Chief Justice Steele offered welcoming remarks along with Governor Jack Markell, Senator Thomas R. Carper, Attorney General Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, and Mayor James M. Baker, who were all on hand to welcome the participants.

Panelists

Panelists discussing "Issues and Effectiveness of Commercial Dispute or 'Business' Courts" at CCJ Meeting.

Over the course of the next several days, participants engaged innumerous committee meetings and broad ranging panel discussions focused on both national and international issues relating to complex multi‐jurisdictional litigation, e‐discovery, and business courts, among other topics. Moderator Stephen Saltzburg, Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, and a panel, including Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III, discussed problems and potential fixes involved in the “Management of Complex Multi‐Jurisdictional Litigation.” During the “Business Litigation through Regulation and Prosecution” panel, Henry R. Butler, Executive Director, Law & Economics Center, George Mason University Law School, engaged the panelists in discussions on whether litigation and prosecution (or the threat of such actions) of corporate behavior results in sound public policy. The panel on “International Practice of Law and Its Impact on State Court Systems” was moderated by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Margaret H. Marshall, and included speakers from Australia, Canada, United States and Justice Philip Pillai, Supreme Court of Singapore, who addressed the types of mechanisms in place in their respective court systems that attract business chartering and litigation. A panel, led by Chief Justice Jean Toal from South Carolina and including Delaware Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Berger, discussed “Issues and Effectiveness of Commercial Dispute or ‘Business’ Courts.”

Margaret Marshall

Former Chief Justice Margaret Marshall (Massachusetts) moderated a panel on "International Practice of Law and Its Impact on State Court Systems" at recent CCJ meeting in Wilmington.

Ellen Kullman

Ellen Kullman, Chair and CEO of DuPont Company, speaking at the CCJ meeting.

DuPont featuring an appearance by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. With a nod to his esteemed audience, the Vice President began his address with, “May it please the courts…” and told the chief justices that their work in enforcing the rule of law reinforces aspirations shared by people around the world to be treated fairly. The Vice President went on to say that “‘American exceptionalism’ … does exist… The truly exceptional aspect of our American democracy is our deep commitment to the rule of law in our courts.” After his address, the Vice President lingered with the crowd addressing many of the Chief Justices personally.

Bringing the thought‐provoking educational program to ompletion, Ellen J. Kullman, Chair and CEO of DuPont Company, spoke at the farewell luncheon on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Speaking on the topic of “What Factors CEOs of Publicly Traded Multinational Corporations Favor in the Litigation Environment,” Ms. Kullman suggested to the participants what many business experts have come to recognize: that the extensive experience, track record, and accessibility of the Delaware Courts makes this state an ideal choice for business litigation.

Supplementing the intellectual discourse, social activities ponsored by the program treated the attendees and their guests to a healthy sampling of Delaware hospitality. Social events included a tour of the Air Mobility Command Museum at the Dover Air Force Base (and Air Force Two – the recently retired Vice Presidential plane), visits to the town of Old New Castle, a tour of the Brandywine River Museum, an evening at Winterthur Museum, and a reception at the Wilmington Club. The festivities were capped off by a dinner reception on the last night of the conference at the World Café Live at the Queen Theater. During dinner, the chief justices were delighted by the young musical group and local blue grass favorite, Road 599, and a performance by the Learned Hands (a group comprised of Delaware judges and local practitioners), enticing guests to break out their dancing shoes and sing along to some new and old jazz and rock favorites.

Biden and Chief Justice

Chief Justice Myron T. Steele and Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. at the CCJ meeting in Wilmington, Delaware.

From start to finish, the conference showcased the strong relationship of Delaware courts with the business law area, as well as Delaware’s many cultural treasures. The success of the conference was due to the hard work and collaboration of many volunteers. Chief Justice Steele expressed his appreciation to all of those, including Delaware judges, attorneys, AOC staff, and others, who went above and beyond to support the event.

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