Posted: Aug. 13, 2009


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Three candidates have made the cut to be considered for a judgeship on the Court of Chancery, the state's most exclusive legal fraternity renowned for its work as the arbiter of business law.

The names of a judge from another court and two lawyers were forwarded Thursday to Gov. Jack Markell from his Judicial Nominating Commission, the panel responsible for screening the applicants. The possibilities for vice chancellor are:

--Mary Johnston, a Superior Court judge since 2003 and previously the chief disciplinary counsel for the Delaware Supreme Court and a partner at Morris James.

--Richard Forsten, a partner at Saul Ewing and counsel to the Delaware Republican Party.

--Travis Laster, a partner at Abrams & Laster with a practice in corporate law.

The judicial nominating process is confidential, but the list was confirmed either by the candidates themselves or by others with knowledge of the names on it.

The lead-up to Markell's selection is being followed closely in legal and corporate circles because of the court's integral role in business law.

Markell is expected to interview the candidates next week. His choice will be sent to the state Senate for a confirmation vote, which will come in a special session likely to be held in late September.

The new vice chancellor will replace Stephen Lamb, who left the five-judge court on July 28 at the end of his 12-year term and then joined Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison.

Although Markell and the Senate majority are Democrats, all of the Chancery candidates are Republicans to satisfy a constitutional requirement for political balance in the state judiciary.