Delaware Supreme Court
Seal of the Supreme Court of Delaware
LocationWilmington, Delaware
Authorized byDelaware Constitution
Appeals toSupreme Court of the United States
Number of positions5
WebsiteOfficial Website
Chief Justice
CurrentlyCollins J. Seitz Jr.
SinceNovember 8, 2019

The Delaware Supreme Court is the sole appellate court in the United States state of Delaware. Because Delaware is a popular haven for corporations, the Court has developed a worldwide reputation as a respected source of corporate law decisions, particularly in the area of mergers and acquisitions.[1]


The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over direct appeals from the Superior Court, Family Court, and Court of Chancery. Because it is the only appellate court in the state, its jurisdiction over appeals from final orders is mandatory. However, it has discretionary jurisdiction over appeals from interlocutory orders.

The Court has original jurisdiction over writs of mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari. In addition, the Court regulates and has exclusive jurisdiction over matters concerning the admission and discipline of lawyers, the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, continuing legal education requirements, and the unauthorized practice of law.

Constitutionally, the Chief Justice is the chief administrative officer of the entire Delaware judicial system and has the responsibility for securing funding for the courts from the Delaware General Assembly.



Motions are normally handled in chambers by a motions justice. Arguments on motions are uncommon.

Oral argument

While the Court's appellate jurisdiction is mandatory, it is not required to hear oral argument. Typically between sixty and seventy-five percent of its decisions are rendered on briefs. If a case involves a novel question of law or the justices desire clarification, oral argument is called. Each attorney in oral argument is given 20 minutes to present its side, except for capital cases, in which each side is given 30 minutes.

Most cases are heard by a panel of three justices. In certain cases set forth in Rule 1 of the Court's Rules, the Court will sit en banc. These cases include cases where a criminal defendant has been sentenced to death, where the three justice panel cannot reach a unanimous decision, or where the Court has been asked to modify or overrule existing precedent.

In cases being heard by a three justice panel, the lawyers presenting argument do not know the identity of the justices hearing the argument until the justices enter the courtroom.

Arguments are normally held each Wednesday beginning at 10:00 a.m. in Dover, the state capital. Occasionally, the Court will hear arguments in special locations, such as the Widener University School of Law. The Court has a courtroom in Wilmington, but it is rarely used.


The Court in its current form was established by means of a constitutional amendment in 1951. Before that, the Court had operated under the Delaware Constitution of 1897 as a unique "leftover-judge" system, wherein appeals were heard by a panel of three judges who were not involved in the matter on appeal from either the Superior Court or the Court of Chancery. In 1978, the Court's size was expanded from three to five. Prior to 1897, Delaware's highest court was the Court of Errors & Appeals, which operated under a similar "leftover-judge" system.

Notable cases


As outlined by Article IV of the Constitution of Delaware, Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Governor of Delaware, subject to confirmation by the Delaware Senate and serve a term of office of 12 years. Additionally, like all the Courts of Delaware, the Supreme Court is subject to a "bare majority" partisanship rule, where no party can control more than three seats on the Supreme Court.

Current justices

Main article: List of justices of the Delaware Supreme Court

As of 22 May 2023,

Justice Born Joined Term ends Party affiliation Appointed by Law school
Collins J. Seitz Jr., Chief Justice (1957-09-14) September 14, 1957 (age 66) April 14, 2015[a] 2031 Democratic John Carney (D)[b] Villanova
Karen L. Valihura (1963-05-16) May 16, 1963 (age 61) July 25, 2014 2026 Republican Jack Markell (D) Pennsylvania
Gary Traynor (1956-08-25) August 25, 1956 (age 67) July 5, 2017 2029 Republican John Carney (D) Delaware
Abigail LeGrow May 11, 2023 2035 Democratic John Carney (D) Penn State
N. Christopher Griffiths May 22, 2023 2035 Democratic John Carney (D) Villanova
  1. ^ Took office as Chief Justice on November 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Originally appointed by Governor Jack Markell (D) as Associate Justice. Subsequently elevated by Governor John Carney (D) as Chief Justice.

See also


  1. ^ Thomas Lee Hazen and Jerry W. Markham, Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (2003) ISBN 0-314-26476-0

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