Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey: A judicial titan in the courtroom (and the breakfast room)

Former Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey says that he’s “flunked retirement three times.”

Veasey, 86, left Richards, Layton & Finger in 1992, after spending 35 years there in corporate litigation and, at various times, managing partner and CEO of the firm, to take office as chief justice. After his retirement from the Supreme Court 12 years later, he was a senior partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP until the end of 2013, when he joined the Wilmington firm of Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella P.A. in January 2014.

“I just wanted to stay active and busy trying new things,” said Veasey, who quickly attributed his success to his “wonderful wife of 63 years, Suzy. She has been my inspiration and the love of my life.”

Photo by Ron Dubick

In addition to a busy schedule as an arbitrator, mediator, and expert witness on the Delaware court system, Veasey’s recent past includes co-authoring “Indispensable Counsel: The Chief Legal Officer in the New Reality;” serving Delaware as independent counsel and special deputy attorney general to investigate campaign funding law violations (2011-2014); and working closely with the Choir School of Delaware. And he’s also received a number of awards along the way, including the Josiah Marvel Cup from the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce in 2014.

Former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgeley called Veasey’s recognition a “well-deserved honor. He continues to demonstrate and sets the example of the professionalism, civility, and legal excellence for which Delaware lawyers and judges are known. He is a go-to arbitrator and mediator for complex commercial and corporate cases; a scholar who continues to publish articles in prestigious legal journals; and he is an international resource on Delaware law and the quality of the Delaware judiciary and bar. Just recently, he and former Chief Justice Myron Steele filed a brief together in the United States Supreme Court on the Delaware judicial selection process. Norm has an extraordinary energy level so please publish what he has for breakfast.”

Steele, who’s a Democrat, and Veasey, a Republican, are backing Gov. John Carney in his attempt to preserve a Delaware law that requires a political balance in judicial nominations and judgeships. Carney is asking the court to reverse a federal court decision that struck down the state law.  Delaware’s governor is responsible for appointing judges to the state’s supreme, superior, family, and chancery courts.

Veasey said he’s lived his life by the “Never Give Up” philosophy of Winston Churchill. “I’ve seen what happens to people who stopped working. My belief is that you should do what you like doing and if you don’t like it, stop,” he said.

While he doesn’t know what the future holds, he does plan to stay busy.

When asked what advice he’d give the 25-year-old Norman Veasey, he responded without even a slight pause: “Maintain your integrity at all costs. Handle things in a way where you’ll be proud of yourself; to thine own self be true. Keep working. And take care of your family.”

As for Henry Ridgeley’s breakfast question, Veasey says he eats Smart Start cereal and half a banana, with coffee and orange juice.

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