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Judge LeGrow, Connolly Gallagher’s Griffiths tapped for high court

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Judge Abigail LeGrow and Connolly Gallagher partner Chris Griffiths Delaware Supreme Court

Judge Abigail LeGrow and Connolly Gallagher partner Chris Griffiths have been nominated for the Delaware Supreme Court. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DE COURTS/CONNOLLY GALLAGHER

WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney announced Thursday evening that he will nominate Superior Court Judge Abigail LeGrow and Connolly Gallagher partner N. Christopher Griffiths to fill two open seats on the Delaware Supreme Court.

The selected successors to former Supreme Court Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves and outgoing Justice James T. Vaughn Jr. still must be confirmed by the State Senate, but that process has faced little opposition in recent years. The governor’s picks also answer outside criticisms about the lack of diversity on Delaware’s top courts by tapping a woman and its first Black man.

“I believe both Judge LeGrow and Chris Griffiths have the experience, knowledge, and commitment to public service necessary to serve on the Supreme Court,” Carney said in a statement announcing the picks. “Judge LeGrow brings experience from various Delaware courts, and Chris brings extensive litigation expertise. I want to thank these two qualified nominees for their willingness to serve the people of the State of Delaware, and I look forward to the Senate considering their nominations.”

Appointed in 2016 by then-Gov. Jack Markell, LeGrow serves as a judge of the Superior Court of the State of Delaware. Prior to joining the judiciary, LeGrow was appointed as a master in chancery on the Delaware Court of Chancery by then-Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr.  She received her law degree from the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in political science from Susquehanna University.

While in law school, LeGrow was an editor of the Penn State Law Review and a recipient of the Walter Harrison Hitchler Award and the American Bankruptcy Law Journal Prize. Upon graduation, she clerked at the Delaware Supreme Court and later practiced with Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP.

Meanwhile, Griffiths is a partner at Wilmington-based law firm Connolly Gallagher, where he focuses on administrative and government law; corporate and commercial litigation; bankruptcy law; and general litigation. He serves as city solicitor to the towns of New Castle, Newport and Townsend – roles he would have to leave upon joining the Supreme Court.

Before entering private practice, Griffiths served as a wealth manager for the Wilmington Trust Company and the Vanguard Group. He received his law degree from Villanova University School of Law, and he is a graduate of the University of Delaware and Salesianum High School. 

Chris is dedicated to pro bono service, serving on the boards of the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware; Children & Families First of Delaware; Ministry of Caring; Sacred Heart Village; and the Wilmington Library.

Griffiths has received the Delaware State Bar Association Young Lawyer of Distinguished Service Award, and the Supreme Court has appointed him as a Trustee of its Client Protection Fund. Chris also serves the board of the Delaware Law Related Education Center focusing on trial advocacy.

The vacancies and the searches for replacements are of interest to the corporate class and state leadership alike.

Over 1 million businesses, including half of all publicly traded companies and more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, are incorporated in Delaware due to its business-focused equity court, the Court of Chancery, where specialized judges rather than juries rule on corporate disputes. The state Supreme Court hears all appeals from the Court of Chancery and has long set precedent in the world of corporate governance.

The Supreme Court has also been in state headlines recently, however, as it struck down same-day voter registration and mail-in balloting as unconstitutional last year in a blow to Democratic Party goals.

The governor’s nominations also come in a climate of heightened debate about diversity of the state’s judiciary. The appointment of Montgomery-Reeves as justice was a milestone for Delaware, which had never had a Black Supreme Court justice. She was also the first Black vice chancellor in that court’s history when she was confirmed in 2015.

Her move to the Philadelphia-based federal court reignited the debate over diversity on Delaware’s courts, as its highest-ranking minority judge is leaving. The First State has recently seen increasing protests on the matter by celebrity civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton, local activists and the Citizens for Judicial Fairness, a group formerly known as Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware that was formed by employees of TransPerfect, a company with a long, bitter history in the Chancery system.

Since backing Montgomery-Reeves to the high court, Carney had not nominated a minority candidate to either the Supreme Court or Court of Chancery despite the increasing criticism. Delaware utilizes a Judicial Nominating Commission composed of lawyers and laypeople who recommend nominees to the governor for state judgeships.

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