Posted: Oct. 27, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Five candidates are said to be in the running for four new judgeships on the federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, a Wilmington-based court so overburdened with complex corporate cases that it has been borrowing judges from around the country for years.

Unlike other federal judges, who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, the bankruptcy judges are chosen by the judges who sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals -- in this case the 12 active judges of the Third Circuit, which is headquartered in Philadelphia and covers Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands.

As part of the confidential selection process, interviews with the five candidates are scheduled for next week, Delaware Grapevine has learned.

The candidates are said to be: Kevin J. Carey, currently a Philadelphia-based bankruptcy judge who would shift to Delaware if selected; Kevin Gross, a lawyer with Rosenthal Monhait Gross & Goddess, Andrea L. Rocanelli, the chief disciplinary counsel; Brendan Linehan Shannon, a lawyer with Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor; and Christopher S. Sontchi, a lawyer with Ashby & Geddes.

All of the candidates either declined comment or did not return telephone calls.

Shortly after the interviews are completed, the court will announce its tentative appointees, subject to a 30-day period for public comment and background checks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.

It could take as long as three months before the court's choices are ready to take their seats. Bankruptcy judges receive 14-year terms at a salary of $149,132 a year.

The new judgeships for Delaware have been a priority for the state's three-member congressional delegation for years and finally were approved as part of the new comprehensive bankruptcy act that President George W. Bush signed into law in April.

The five candidates were said to be culled from about 50 applicants.

The bankruptcy court here officially has a two-member bench of Chief Judge Mary F. Walrath and Judge Peter J. Walsh, but it is so busy that it currently has seven visiting judges imported from other courts around the country, according to the court's Web site.

The court has a national reputation for handling corporate mega-cases and contributes to Delaware's signature practice of business law.