Posted: Feb. 1, 2006


Ting says yes

Jan C. Ting, the law professor who was being courted by the Republicans to run for the U.S. Senate, told party leaders Wednesday afternoon he would do it.

He sounded cheerful about his candidacy, even though he will be taking on U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the Democratic ex-governor who happens to hold the record for statewide victories in Delaware and has $2 million in the bank.

"Everyone says this will be a challenging year for Republicans, so we'll see what we can do," Ting said.

No matter how the election turns out, Ting already has brought the Republicans' success -- by sparing them from the prospect of Michael D. Protack, a perennial candidate who never saw a top-tier office he did not want to run for.

Protack can force a primary fight for the nomination, but the Republican establishment already has signaled that Ting is its choice. The honorary chairs of his campaign are Priscilla B. Rakestraw, the Republican national committeewoman, and W. Laird Stabler Jr., the past national committeeman.

Ting expects to make his candidacy official in April in advance of the Republican state convention at the end of the month, when the party will endorse a statewide ticket.

"I hope my candidacy will help bring out our base and bring out people who otherwise might not vote," Ting said. "I think it will get people interested in politics again."

An inside view of the "State of the Union"

Live from the Capitol, there was Wilmington lawyer Timothy J. Houseal in the chamber to watch President George W. Bush give his "State of the Union" speech on Tuesday night.

Houseal was in the gallery, perhaps 30 seats away from first lady Laura Bush, with a head-on view of the president. He was straight back from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It could not have been a better seat without getting appointed to the Cabinet himself.

Houseal was the lucky recipient of the congressional practice that gives one guest ticket for the speech to each senator and representative. It can go to a spouse or other family member, staffer, home state official, constituent -- anyone, really.

Houseal got the one that was distributed to U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle, the seven-term Republican. Houseal is co-counsel to Castle's campaign committee and also is a lawyer for the state Republican Party.

In recent months Houseal has been a leader of Delaware Lawyers for Judicial Fairness, a group of about 50 local attorneys who supported the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. -- which is the reason Houseal really wanted to attend this "State of the Union" speech. Both new Supreme Court members were present for it.

"It was just a historic day to be in Washington with the passing of Coretta Scott King, the confirmation of Samuel Alito, the vote on [Federal Reserve Chair] Ben Bernanke, and of course, the 'State of the Union,'" Houseal said.

Houseal essentially collects this sort of event. He has gone to presidential inaugurations and had a ticket from U.S. Sen. William V. Roth Jr., a Republican who served from 1971 to 2001, to attend a day of the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. He had the Delaware seat for the ceremonial opening of the 2004 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in Independence Hall.

Houseal made a day of it. He took the train to Washington -- bumping into U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper during the ride -- then got a ticket from U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. to watch the Senate vote on Alito before going over to Castle's office. It did not matter at all that Houseal favored Alito's confirmation and both Democratic senators voted against it.

In a matter of hours, Houseal was involved with the state's entire delegation. "Only in Delaware could this happen," he said.

Greetings from Gebelein

Judge Richard S. Gebelein got a break over the holidays and a visit from his family, but these days he is back at work, hearing cases on war crimes and organized crimes in Bosnia.

Gebelein, who took early retirement from the Superior Court to accept an international judgeship, has been away from home since the end of August. His son Zachary is staying with him, and they were joined by Gebelein's wife Jerri and daughter Sacha for Christmas and New Year's. Son and daughter are both in their 20s.

As Gebelein did when he went to Afghanistan on a National Guard call-up, he is sending e-mail to Delaware Grapevine from his e-address at about his experiences. Here is his latest:

"Jerri and Sacha visited Zak and me in Munich for a few days around Christmas. It was really very nice, and the German people really celebrate the holiday season. We also were there for New Year’s Eve when it seemed that every person in town fired off their own personal store of fireworks, rockets and Roman candles. The barrage lasted from about 11:20 until 3:00.  

"It was back to Sarajevo for Jerri, Zak and myself on the third of January. Sacha headed to Italy to visit friends she had met when she studied there last year. She would join us around the 10th to see where we are living. Sadly about a week later, it was time for Jerri and Sacha to head home. 

"It is difficult to schedule trial days here around the beginning of the year due to the various religious days that differing groups celebrate. There is Christmas and Orthodox Christmas and Bajram [a Muslim religious festival], all within a few weeks.

"It was back to work at the court in any event. I am sitting with a three-judge panel that is in trial simultaneously in two fairly complex cases, one a charge of war crimes and the other involving charges of organized criminal activity and corruption. This of course makes the scheduling of trial days difficult. 

"When the evidence is finally concluded, the panel will have to decide the cases and issue a verdict. Some of these verdicts run into several hundred pages. The verdict is then subject to appeal to another panel of judges who review it for both legal and factual errors. I have already served on such a panel reviewing the verdict in an organized crime trial. 

"This past week, the judges of the War Crimes Chamber were hosted by the United States Embassy on a brief trip to The Hague to meet with the judges and staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. 

"Our goal in making this trip was to begin a dialog on the procedures to be established for access to evidence accumulated over the past 10 years by the investigators and prosecutors at the tribunal. For there to be a fair trial in our court, access to the thousands of statements taken by or for the tribunal is crucial.

"As to spare time, both Zak and I are taking lessons in Bosnian. Zak seems to be doing better at this than I am. On the other hand, I successfully called a taxi at 4:30 in the morning to pick me up and take me to the airport."