Del. Gen. Assembly Unanimously Confirms Vaughn as Next Supreme Court Justice

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By Michael Greene

Oct. 8— The Delaware General Assembly Oct. 8 unanimously confirmed state superior court Judge James T. Vaughn, Jr. as the next justice on the state's supreme court.

In a statement about the confirmation posted on his website, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said, “Justice Vaughn is an accomplished and well-respected jurist whose integrity and commitment to justice are second to none. I believe he will make an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court, and I thank the members of the Senate for their consideration and swift confirmation of his nomination.”

On Sept. 23, Gov. Markell announced Judge Vaughn's nomination. Earlier, he had called the Oct. 8 special session to consider his nominee because of the vacancy left by Justice Carolyn Berger, who retired effective Sept. 1.

Vaughn is a 15-year veteran of the Delaware Superior Court, serving as presiding judge since 2004.

Vaughn, 65, obtained his law degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1976 and was admitted to the Delaware Bar the same year. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University in 1971.

Professor Lawrence Hamermesh, a professor at Widener University School of Law, told Bloomberg BNA that it was “unsurprising” that the nomination was unanimous and that Judge Vaughn is “widely acclaimed as a good choice.”

He added that Judge Vaughn “brings a great deal of experience” to the court, especially in criminal matters, and that “somebody with his knowledge is important to the court.”

Supreme Court Turnover

Berger, who was the first female member of the Delaware Court of Chancery and the state supreme court, announced her retirement in June. Berger's announcement came just three days after Markell announced his replacement for outgoing state supreme court Justice Jack Jacobs.

Karen L. Valihura, who was sworn in July 25, replaced Jacobs, who retired effective June 24.

Earlier this year, Leo E. Strine Jr. was sworn in as the eighth chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, replacing former Chief Justice Myron Steele, who served as chief justice from May 2005 until his retirement in November 2013.

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Gov. Markell's press release is available at