Editorial: Delaware judiciary rating drop self-inflicted, says Alan Dershowitz

Founding Publisher Sam Waltz

The precipitous fall from first to 11th of the State of Delaware Judiciary in prestigious national rankings of state court systems is self-inflicted, according to nationally known Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.

Two developments drove the reputational fall of the Delaware court system, said Dershowitz. The first its handling of the TransPerfect Global matter in Chancery and Supreme Court cases. The second, the ascension to the Chief Justice role of Leo Strine, who formerly headed Chancery Court until an appointment to the Supreme bench near the end of Gov. Markell’s tenure.

“The point I want to make is that Justice Strine is single-handedly destroying the reputation of Delaware as a Judicial system to corporations,” said Dershowitz. “He will cause a lot of corporate counsels to reconsider relocating their corporations in Delaware.”

“I would never recommend to a corporation to put their lives or welfare in the hands of Justice Strine,” added Dershowitz. “I would hope that corporations would get out of the automatic habit of thinking that Delaware is the best place to get justice. It’s just not so. In 50 years of litigating cases all over the world, I’ve rarely seen a more high-handed chief judge than Justice Strine.”

Dershowitz is on retainer as counsel to Shirley Shawe, a 1 percent owner of the TransPerfect Global case in litigation between her son Phil Shawe, who owns 49 percent of TransPerfect, and Elizabeth “Liz” Elting, his former lover and betrothed fiancé who broke the engagement and married another man, who owns the other 50 percent.

The court was not contacted for comment on this story because as a long-standing policy, it does not comment to the media on such cases or remarks. However, representatives of the Bench will be offered the opportunity to author an OpEd column on the matter of Delaware’s rating, or more specifically regarding Mr. Dershowitz’s criticisms.

Elting and her attorneys have routinely declined, as well, to comment.

In a creative public relations strategy, spokesmen who said they represented a group funded by TransPerfect employees also have widely run an extensive ad campaign for nearly a year warning Delawareans that Chancery Court’s handling of the TransPerfect Global matter is wrong, that it would hurt Delaware’s vaunted reputation as a home to national and global incorporations and hence legal business, and that fall would cost Delaware jobs both in the public sector as well as more extensively in its valuable legal community.

Particularly irritating to the Shawe side of the TransPerfect Global case in the latest development are actions by Robert Pincus, a Delaware-based Skadden Arps attorney appointed by Chancellor Andre Bouchard to oversee TransPerfect where Ms. Elting claims management is deadlocked and stalemated.

Pincus has reportedly told the Shawe interests that unless they agree to withdraw and close all litigation that they’ve started regarding TransPerfect, the courts and Mr. Pincus, that he will not allow Mr. Shawe to submit a bid in the auction that he plans for TransPerfect Global.

In a recent Federal Civil Rights action in the New York District, Shawe’s side has complained that Pincus, in the reported threat to bar Shawe from the auction, has committed an illegal “taking” of Shawe’s property.

“Taking” in that context is a “term of art” in the legal community, based on Constitutional rights to one’s own property that cannot be taken or otherwise usurped by government.

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