Posted: Feb. 11, 2016
UPDATE: JACK'S JUDGES
Delaware might as well dispense with the convention of calling a court by the name of its presiding judge, like the way the U.S. Supreme Court is known as the "Roberts court" for John Roberts, the chief justice.
Better to say the "Markell court." Better yet, the "Markell court system."
Jack Markell, the Democratic governor, was elected to run the executive branch, but it is the judicial branch that is going to be one of his most enduring legacies, after he leaves office in January 2017 at the end of his second term.
Markell made a lot of judges. It was like, what were they, Cabinet secretaries?
The reason Markell got to go on his judicial streak was simply an accident of timing, much of it due to a chain reaction after Myron Steele retired at the end of 2013 as chief justice, more than two years before his 12-year term was up. It set off more early retirements, promotions and derivative vacancies.
Markell's mark is most evident on the Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery, the tandem benches at the top, where he is a Perfect 10. Ten judgeships available. Ten judgeships filled.
When Markell recently nominated Joe Slights for vice chancellor, it completed the sweep -- with nine appointments for chief justice and three justices, chancellor and four vice chancellors, along with a reappointment for one leftover justice.
One other thing Markell did was slyly tip the court system slightly Democratic. The state constitution requires political balance throughout the judicial branch, but all of the courts have an odd-number of judges, so a Democratic governor aided by complicit confirmations from the Democratic-run state Senate has every court except the Superior Court leaning Democratic.
Roughly four-fifths of the judiciary will belong to Markell by the time he is done. History might just judge him by his judges.
Source: Governor's Office of Boards & Commissions