Leo Strine

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's attorney general, who has criticized an effort by a committee established by lawmakers to overhaul the state's criminal code, is proposing a more narrowly tailored approach focusing on drug laws.

Attorney General Matt Denn on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at making Delaware's drug laws less complicated and more fair while increasing penalties for repeat convictions for drug dealing.

Denn said the revision will result in a more straightforward, coherent criminal drug code to ensure fair and proportional sentences.

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Those who live in manufactured homes got a major break from Delaware’s Supreme Court yesterday.

The justices ruled that a landlords cannot hike their rents by because of other rent increases in the area.

Chief Justice Leo Strine said that the landowners must prove that the rent increases above inflation are directly connected to the maintenance or upgrading the community.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the court said that the landlord must show that the increase compensates for a rise in costs diminishing financial return.

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There is an effort in Delaware to deal with the racial disparity in the criminal justice where a majority of prison inmates are African Americans but who only represent just over 20 percent of the state population.

Currently, a task force created by the state's Supreme Court Justice is looking into how this disparity can be ameliorated.

Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush spoke with Charlotte King, co-chair of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice about the criminal justice reform efforts in the First State.

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During a Town Hall meeting last night in Wilmington civil rights activists called for a major reform of the criminal justice system and the repeal of the death penalty.

Charles Madden, executive director of the Hope Commission, noted that 62 percent of African American males in Wilmington have either been incarcerated or are on probation or parole.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that in Delaware of the 56-hundred people in jail last year around 56 percent of them were black.

On death row nine of the 15 inmates are black.

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The Delaware Supreme Court has turned back an effort to overturn 45 drug convictions after state drug-testing lab scandal.

The defendants from Sussex County all pleaded guilty to drug offenses before the revelations.

From 2010 to 2014 there were at least 55 piece of drug evidence from the office under the Delaware Medical Examiner’s office.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Chief Justice Leo Strine wrote that despite the scandal the high court would not overturn the decisions made by the defendants to plead guilty before the revelations came to public light.

Leo Strine, courts.delaware.gov

The Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Fairness will be hold a series of public hearings this year looking for way to deal with racial disparity of the criminal justice system in Delaware.  

Chief Justice Leo Strine told the Wilmington News Journal that the goal is to find common sense solutions.

The paper notes that while 22 percent of Delaware’s state population is African American nearly 60 percent of the prison population is black.  

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The Delaware Supreme Court is mulling whether to vacate the guilty pleas of scores of drug defendants because of an evidence-tampering scandal at the state drug-testing lab.

Public defenders argue that the pleas should be tossed because it's unclear whether the state could have met its burden of proving guilt had the cases gone to trial.

They also say the defendants should not be subjected to sentences any harsher than those from their plea bargains if they are convicted at trial.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden says minority communities around the country need to work to bridge the separation between police and the residents they serve.

Speaking Monday at a breakfast honoring slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., Biden said communities and police departments need to build relationships of trust.

"There's no reason on earth we cannot repair the breach that we've recently seen between law enforcement and minority communities," he said.

Delaware State Supreme Court Website

Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely will be stepping down as of January 31st.

That’s a year and half before his term actually ends.

It has long been rumored that the Justice would leave the bench and it gives Governor Jack Markell the opportunity to name a fourth Delaware Supreme Court Justice in less than a year.

This has been a historic turnover for the state’s highest court.

In December of last year Chief Justice Myron Steele left the bench.

That was followed by Jack Jacobs and Carolyn Berger earlier this year.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Government agency heads are asking Markell administration budget officials for additional funding in the next fiscal year.

Chief Justice Leo Strine Jr. told state budget office officials on Monday that the judicial branch would like about $3 million in additional funding in fiscal 2016 on top of the $95 million in general funds that the court system received this year. Strine says more than 80 percent additional funding would to to employee costs and technology infrastructure.

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Delaware’s Chief Justice Leo Strine questioned the arguments by the owner of Barley Mill Plaza in Greenville that a lower court judge overreach in throwing out the project’s rezoning.

The lower court judge’s ruling voided the New Castle County’s 2011 vote to rezone nearly 40 percent of the 92-acre office park.

The owners argued that the lower court should not have gotten into the meeting records to figure out the reasoning of a key vote on the council.

courts.delaware.gov

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's new chief justice is urging caution for lawmakers as they consider whether to open certain Family Court proceedings to the public.

Leo Strine Jr. was asked about an ongoing Family Court reform initiative Monday during a presentation by the judiciary to legislative budget writers.

Strine said the idea of opening Family Court proceedings regarding sensitive issues such as child custody makes him "really uncomfortable."

Delaware State Court website

DOVER, Del. (AP) - The state Senate has confirmed Gov. Jack Markell's nomination of the head of Delaware's Court of Chancery to be the state's new chief justice.

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. as the eighth chief justice of Delaware's Supreme Court.

The post became vacant upon the recent retirement of Chief Justice Myron Steele.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The judge tapped by Gov. Jack Markell to become Delaware's new chief justice says he is personally opposed to the death penalty.

But Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. said Monday that judges and other public officials must follow the law in performing their duties and not impose their personal political preferences.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Gov. Jack Markell has nominated the head of Delaware's Court of Chancery to become the state's new chief justice.

Markell announced Wednesday that Chancellor Leo Strine Jr. is his pick to serve as the eighth chief justice of Delaware's Supreme Court.

The post became vacant upon the recent retirement of Justice Myron Steele.

Markell said Strine, whose nomination is subject to Senate confirmation, has a "superior intellect, incredible work ethic, and substantial judicial experience."

courts.delaware.gov

There are four Democrats now being considered for chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.

With Delaware home to more than half of the publicly traded companies in the United States it seen as the most influential judicial jobs in corporate America.

While the selection process is confidential, the Wilmington News Journal reports, sources close to the process provided the names of those who submitted applications to the Judicial Nominating Commission.

Leo Strine, courts.delaware.gov

In Delaware Chancellor Leo Strine has found himself in hot water for remarks he made while hearing a business dispute.

And the state Supreme Court has rebuked him for straying off point in a recent opinion.

The chief judge likened the case of high-end clothing designer Tory Burch and her husband Christopher Burch to – in his words – “a drunken WASP fest.”

The Wilmington News Journal reports that he then asked whether the Burches were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.