Posted: Jan. 15, 2003; Updated Jan. 16, 2003


By Celia Cohen

Grapevine Political Writer

Calvin L. Scott Jr., a deputy attorney general who also is in line to lead the Delaware State Bar Association, is Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's choice to fill a vacant Superior Court judgeship, the Delaware Grapevine has learned.

Scott would assume a Republican seat in New Castle County on the court, replacing Judge Carl Goldstein, who retired. Scott would be the third African-American on the 19-member court that handles both criminal and civil cases.

His nomination to the post, a 12-year term with a current salary of $140,200 a year, must be confirmed by a majority vote of the 21-member state Senate.

Reached late Wednesday afternoon, Scott said the governor had called him hours earlier to tell him about her decision. "I was very excited," he said.

Minner formally announced Thursday that she would nominate Scott. "Calvin has the qualities that will make him an excellent judge, and I hope members of the state Senate will agree with my opinion and confirm him," she said in a news release.

Scott, 47, of Newark, has worked in the state Justice Department since 1993. He is the group leader for lawyers who represent state departments and agencies.

He also serves as the state bar association's vice president-at-large, which puts him in line to become the president in 2004. It is an aspiration he indicated he intends to set aside in exchange for the judgeship, even though there officially is nothing to prevent him from doing both.

Patricia C. Hannigan, an assistant U.S. attorney who is the bar association president, said the governor chose wisely.

"I'm delighted for him and delighted for the court," she said. "He's an absolutely wonderful choice. If you're looking for someone with what we call judicial temperament, that's Calvin."

Scott was selected from a list of four candidates forwarded to the governor from the Judicial Nominating Commission, a nine-member panel that screens applicants for the bench. Although the nominating process is confidential, the names on it typically become common knowledge among the bench and bar because of the keen interest in the appointment.

Scott emerged from a list said to include two of his colleagues in the Justice Department, Chief Deputy Attorney General Ferris W. Wharton and Deputy Attorney General Paul R. Wallace, as well as Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mary M. Johnston.

Scott is a graduate of St. John's College High School, Carnegie-Mellon University and Widener University School of Law. He has been a member of the Delaware bar since 1992.

"Due to the quality of candidates given to me by the Judicial Nominating Commission, this was a very tough decision for me to make," Minner said. "I have interviewed each of the four candidates recommended for this position and was impressed by each of them."

For Minner, a first-term Democrat, the nomination is her second to the Superior Court. She named Judge Jan R. Jurden to that bench in 2001.

Under the Delaware constitution, the courts must be as politically balanced as possible. Scott's presence would maintain the Superior Court's current lineup of 10 Republican and 9 Democratic judges, and it would keep the state's constitutional courts split with Democratic majorities on the Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery and a Republican majority on the Superior Court.