|Delaware Supreme Court Justice James T. Vaughn Jr. (right) welcomes the crowd at the Sept. 29 unveiling of a state historical marker for the Eden Hill Farm in Dover where a colonial-era Supreme Court Justice, and ancestor of former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely (second from right), once lived.
From left: Richard B. Careter, chairman of the Delaware Heritage Commission, Steven M. Marz, Director of the Delaware Public Archives, Justice Ridgely and Justice Vaughn.
Retired Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely (second from right) along with Stephen M. Marz, Director of the Delaware Public Archives,(left, behind the marker) unveil a state historical marker for the Eden Hill Farm at a ceremony on Sept. 29 as Richard B. Carter, chairman of the Delaware Heritage Commission (right) looks on.
Justices take part in ceremony for historical marker at Eden Hill Farm
The Supreme Court has revised the Rules of the Commission on Continuing Education.
The Revised Rules are largely consistent with the existing version and do not change the number of continuing legal education credits needed by the members of the Bar. The most significant substantive change includes the reimplementation of the Fundamentals Programs for newly admitted lawyers and those resuming active practice. The Revised Rules also clarify the intent of the Court to require that at least 12 credits must be earned by attending in person courses during the two year verification period.
In addition, The Revised Rules have been substantially streamlined to (1) avoid various proration of credits, previously requiring lengthy “Examples”; (2) recognize the technological advancements now offered in the delivery of CLE programs using a variety of methods; and (3) provide more consistency with actual practice of reporting, in light of automation of the CLE verification process.
The Revised Rules of the Commission on Continuing Education are available on the Commission’s page of the Delaware State Courts Website.
Delaware Courts implement modest increase in fees to go into effect September 1, 2015, August 30, 2015
New court website provides comprehensive details on the disciplinary process for Delaware judges, August 21, 2015
Operating Procedures for the Delaware Judicial Branch now online in one comprehensive, new user-friendly format.
The Delaware Judiciary has created, for the first time, a comprehensive and easily searchable online index and database of Judicial Branch Operating Procedures – the Operating Procedures for the Delaware Judicial Branch.
In addition to providing a resource with greater utility, the Delaware Supreme Court and Judicial Branch also created this online guide in the spirit of openness and transparency and hopes that this new resource will be a benefit to both the public, legal community and the media long into the future.
Before this change, dozens of Administrative Directives that dated back decades were listed online (and in a few dusty binders) in chronological order only. Even an experienced court administrator had to scan the lengthy list of numbered directives, or recall the name of an old Administrative Directive, to determine Branch policy.
This new online resource makes that game of “find the policy” a thing of the past by putting all key administrative policies of the Judicial Branch in one place, with a clear subject matter index. This enables not only judges, lawyers and judicial staff to easily find the policies they are interested in, but also serves as a resource for the press and the public because it is available on the Judiciary’s website.
To make things even more user-friendly, the Operating Procedures for the Delaware Judicial Branch contain hyperlinks to allow readers to click directly to more detailed Branch policies on specific subjects including the Judicial Branch Personnel Rules and policies related to public access to court administrative records. Not only that, but the policies will be easier to keep current for use by readers because changes can be incorporated immediately into this new online resource.
Consistent with the goal of making Judicial Branch administrative policies and procedures more accessible and up-to-date, existing Administrative Directives have been reviewed, streamlined and updated. Many redundancies and conflicts were eliminated, and some policies were written to favor plainer English over legalese, while others were amended to bring them up to date with current practices.
The online guide outlines general policies of the Branch and is not intended to cover procedural matters governed by individual court rules, Delaware statutes or the Delaware Constitution. Each court may have additional administrative rules and policies of its own, though all must be consistent with and guided by the overall Branch policies detailed in this online guide and the law.
This is a first but not final step in updating the Branch’s policies. The more specific policies that are hyper-linked will be reviewed on a schedule to ensure all Branch policies are up to date within the next several years. The goal will be to then establish a regular schedule under which all policies will undergo regular periodic review to ensure their currency and continual utility.
The Operating Procedures for the Delaware Judicial Branch can be found at http://courts.delaware.gov/supreme/operating-procedures.stm.
Order Re-Establishing the Criminal Justice Council of the Judiciary, August 19, 2015
Amendment to the Delaware Supreme Court Rule 41(a)(ii)
The Delaware Supreme Court has amended its Rule 41 to conform to the General Assembly’s recent amendment to Article IV, Section 11, paragraph (8) of the Delaware Constitution of 1897, which became effective May 14, 2015. The constitutional amendment and corresponding rule amendment expand the list of entities that may certify questions of law to the Delaware Supreme Court to include the highest appellate court of any foreign country and any foreign governmental agency that regulates the issues or trading of securities. View rule amendment.
Delaware Supreme Court Adopts Delaware Rapid Arbitration Rules
By an order dated June 17, 2015, the Delaware Supreme Court has adopted, in consultation with the Court of Chancery, the Delaware Rapid Arbitration Rules (“Rules”) to govern the procedure in arbitrations under the recently-enacted Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act, 10 Del. C. § 5801 et seq. (“DRAA”). The Rules are effective June 22, 2015 and are available on the Delaware State Courts’ website.
The Rules set forth the procedures for arbitrations under the DRAA. The Rules address, among other things, commencement of an arbitration under the DRAA, the authority of the arbitrator, the scheduling and order of arbitration proceedings, the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings, and the form of a final award. The parties to an arbitration under the DRAA may agree, with the consent of the arbitrator, to modify the Rules or adopt additional rules, as long as no modification or addition is inconsistent with the DRAA. The Court may amend the Rules at any time.
If you have any questions, please contact William S. Montgomery, Supreme Court Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 577-8742.
Amendment to Delaware Supreme Court Internal Operating Procedures
The Supreme Court has revised its Internal Operating Procedures. As the procedures themselves make clear, they are designed to provide a useful description of how the Court operates in the usual course of events. The procedures are not intended to take the place of constitutional, statutory, or procedural rules that apply to cases. Instead, the procedures set forth how the Court generally handles the processing of cases, the scheduling of oral argument, and internal deliberations.
The updated procedures are largely consistent with the existing procedures, but have been streamlined and updated: (i) to eliminate provisions that simply repeated sections of the Court’s Rules; (ii) to address how the Court has operated in the past decade when technology has increased the easier flow of information; (iii) to create more flexibility in internal communications, deliberations, and preparation for oral arguments, while retaining the important ethos that all key decision-making communications include everyone involved in the entire panel assigned to case; and (iv) to eliminate outdated provisions that no longer reflect how the Court has operated in the past decade.
The Supreme Court Internal Operating Procedures are available on the Rules of the Delaware State Courts website.
Delaware Supreme Court Amends Delaware Supreme Court Rules 3, 9, 25, 29, 30, and 43
By an order dated May 20, 2015, the Delaware Supreme Court has amended Supreme Court Rules 3, 9, 25, 29, 30, and 43. These amendments are effective June 1, 2015. The purpose of these amendments is to clarify and to bring into conformity with actual practice the use of motions to affirm under Rule 25 and motions to dismiss under Rule 29.
As to criminal appeals, Rule 25 has been amended to eliminate the ability of an appellee to bring a motion to affirm as to direct appeals from convictions after trial and first motions for postconviction relief under Superior Court Rule 61 when there is a conviction after trial. Motions to affirm remain permitted as to other criminal appeals. In the categories where motions to affirm would no longer be permitted, the appellee may file an earlier answering brief if it wishes quicker disposition.
As to civil appeals, experience has shown that motions to affirm are rarely, if ever, granted, especially if the appeal has been filed through counsel. Rule 25 has been amended to eliminate the option to file a motion to affirm in a civil case, other than one from an appeal of a denial of a petition for an extraordinary writ. Experience has shown that the motion to affirm tool has been efficiently and consistently used in this category of appeals. If there is a genuine need for expedited proceedings, the option of filing a motion for expedition remains. An appellee may also may file an earlier answering brief if it wishes quicker disposition.
Similarly, Rule 29 has been amended to eliminate the option to bring a motion to dismiss an appeal. The Court retains the ability to grant a dismissal motion sua sponte, under the same conditions that currently exist. As with motions to affirm in civil cases, motions to dismiss have rarely been made or granted in the Supreme Court. If an appellee believes an appeal should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or some other non-merits reason,that argument can be made in its answering brief. If the appellee believes that the appeal should move faster, the appellee can file its answering brief earlier.
Conforming amendments have been made to Rules 3, 9, 30, and 43 to make them consistent with the revised Rule 29.
If you have any questions, please contact William S. Montgomery, Supreme Court Administrator, at email@example.com or (302) 577-8742.
Amendments to Delaware Supreme Court Rule 26 and Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 Related to Court-Appointed Postconviction Counsel
The Delaware Supreme Court has amended its Rule 26 and the Superior Court has amended its Criminal Rule 61 to clarify the continuing obligations of a court-appointed postconviction lawyer if the Superior Court grants the lawyer’s motion to withdraw as postconviction counsel.
The Superior Court has amended is Criminal Rule 61(e) to add a new subsection (6)(i), which specifies the obligations that the court-appointed lawyer owes to the client if the lawyer’s motion to withdraw as counsel is granted before final disposition of the motion for postconviction relief. The Superior Court also has amended Rule 61(e) to add a new subsection (6)(ii), which specifies the obligations that the court-appointed lawyer owes to the client if the lawyer’s motion to withdraw as counsel is granted simultaneously to the Superior Court’s final disposition of the motion for postconviction relief.
The Supreme Court has amended its Rule 26 to clarify that, if the court-appointed postconviction lawyer is permitted to withdraw as counsel by the Superior Court, then the court-appointed counsel’s continuing obligations to the client on appeal are limited to those duties set forth in Superior Court Criminal Rule 61(e)(6).
The Delaware Judiciary Creates the Judicial Strategies Committee to Focus on Long-Term Planning for the Delaware Courts
In order to better prepare to meet the challenges of the future, the Delaware Judiciary has created the Judicial Strategies Committee to guide the long-term strategic planning for the State Court System.
The Committee represents a collaborative approach by the Judiciary in that the Committee will not only be comprised of the presiding judges of each of the State’s Courts and court staff but also key legislative leaders and members of the Bar.
With this broad-based membership, the Judiciary hopes to deepen its efforts to work closely with the Bar and the broader community, hear the views of those who use our judicial system, and to anticipate future challenges and propose thoughtful solutions.
Members of the Committee will include the current and immediate past president of the Delaware State Bar Association, the co-chairs of the Delaware Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, the chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee along with a minority-party member of each of those committees to ensure bi-partisan representation. Additional members may be appointed by the Chief Justice to represent the legal community and other important perspectives.
The Chief Justice will serve as the ex officio chair of the Judicial Strategies Committee, and the co-chairs will be the State Court Administrator along with a member of the Bar appointed by the Chief Justice.
The Committee will be responsible for long-term strategic planning for the Delaware Judiciary, including legislative matters and other emerging trends that affect the Delaware Courts and the justice system in Delaware and will develop policy-oriented solutions.
A Working Group of the Committee will be established to deal with urgent or day-to-day implementation issues related to the work of the Committee.
The Committee, established by a judicial order signed by Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. on May 21, will go into effect on July 1, 2015, at the conclusion of the current legislative term. A copy of the order can be found here.
Amendments to the Delaware Supreme Court Rules and the Court of Chancery Rules Related to the Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act
To implement aspects of the recently-enacted Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act, 10 Del. C. § 5801 et seq. (“DRAA”), the Delaware Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery have amended their rules. These amendments are effective June 1, 2015.
The Supreme Court has amended Supreme Court Rules 6, 7, 9, and 32. Rule 6 has been amended to include the time for an appeal or cross-appeal of a final award under the DRAA. Rule 7 has been amended to include the procedures for an appeal of a final award under the DRAA. Rule 9 has been amended to clarify the record on appeal of a final award under the DRAA. Rule 32 has been amended to include the procedure for a stay or injunction pending appeal of a final award under the DRAA.
Court of Chancery Rules 96-98 also have been amended. Rule 96 establishes the process for commencing a summary proceeding to appoint an arbitrator under the DRAA in certain circumstances, such as when the parties cannot agree on an arbitrator. Rule 97 governs proceedings under the DRAA to enforce subpoenas, determine an arbitrator’s fees and enter judgment after arbitration. Rule 98 was removed in its entirety and is reserved for future use.
The Supreme Court and Court of Chancery amendments are available on the Rules page.