Benchslaps, Rudeness, State Judges

Benchslap of the Day: With All Due Respect, Please STFU

Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr.

We remind Delaware judges that the obligation to write judicial opinions on the issues presented is not a license to use those opinions as a platform from which to propagate their individual world views on issues not presented. …

To the extent Delaware judges wish to stray beyond those issues and, without making any definitive pronouncements, ruminate on what the proper direction of Delaware law should be, there are appropriate platforms, such as law review articles, the classroom, continuing legal education presentations, and keynote speeches.

— The Delaware Supreme Court, in an en banc decision, stepping away from the case at hand in Gatz Properties v. Auriga Capital to comment on Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor Leo E. Strine’s tendency to make rather colorful comments and observations in his opinions.

(Continue reading for one of Chancellor Strine’s most recent greatest hits, which came in the form of an awesome courtroom digression.)

While Delaware’s high court rebuked Strine for his 10-page diversion in Gatz on whether limited liability companies have default fiduciary duties, the justices missed an opportunity to snark on the Chancellor for his courtroom capers in fashionista Tory Burch’s dispute with her ex-husband over dueling designer boutiques.

Reuters sums up the debacle — which featured a cavalcade of lawyers from Quinn Emanuel, Abrams & Bayliss, Wachtell Lipton, Morris Nichols, and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton — quite nicely:

At a hearing last week, Strine called a dispute between fashion star Tory Burch and her former husband a “drunken WASP-fest,” and spent several minutes discussing where white Anglo-Saxon Protestants can pick up Izod and Polo brand shirts on the cheap.

Yes, the good Chancellor called Tory Burch a “drunken WASP,” even though she’s Jewish. But at least he was respectful of her upcoming holiday with regard to the scheduling of the case: “I [don’t] see any reason to burden anyone’s Hanukkah, New Year’s, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus with this preppy clothing dispute.”

Unfortunately, Strine wasn’t exactly respectful when discussing planned depositions of Chinese citizens with Andrew Rossman of Quinn Emanuel. From the entertaining hearing transcript (available on the next page):

We guess Strine isn’t much of a fan of Hunan restaurants.

For a man whose courtroom asides have been described as “legendary,” with “highly entertaining” writing to match, we hope that Chancellor Strine keeps the hits coming.

Click through to the following page to read the amusing Burch v. Burch hearing transcript in full….

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