WILMINGTON, Del Nov 7 The outspoken chief judge
of Delaware's Court of Chancery received a rebuke on Wednesday
from the state's Supreme Court, which told him to keep his
"world views" out of his legal rulings.
Chancellor Leo Strine, whose opinions interpret Delaware's
widely adopted corporate law and help shape Wall Street
dealmaking, often contain at least a few colorful comments or
observations, and his courtroom asides are legendary.
For example, in an opinion in February, Strine said evidence
of a phone call by Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chairman Lloyd
Blankfein to El Paso Chief Executive Douglas Foshee brought
Lionel Richie's 1980s hit "Hello" to mind.
In a ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court took Strine to
task not for his decision in a case about Auriga Capital, which
the court upheld, but for a 10-page detour on the arcane issue
of whether limited liability companies have default fiduciary
The Supreme Court wrote that if Strine wanted to "ruminate
on what the proper direction of Delaware law should be" he
should do so in law review articles and speeches, not in his
"We remind Delaware judges that the obligation to write
judicial opinions on the issues presented is not a license to
use those opinions as a platform from which to propagate their
individual world views on issues not presented," the Supreme
The Supreme Court dedicated five pages of its 34-page ruling
to reining in Strine, saying his analysis was based on a flawed
reading of several cases.
Strine did not immediately respond to a message left with
his chambers seeking comment.
While Wednesday's ruling was per curiam, or the work of the
whole court, it may have its roots in a simmering dispute
between Strine and Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron Steele.
Steele took issue with the section of Strine's opinion on
fiduciary duties during a hearing on the Auriga Capital case in
September. "Why did he go to this whole diatribe, for lack of a
better word, of about how ignorant people are who think other
than he does about whether the default position is (that)
fiduciary duties apply or (do) not apply?" Steele said at the
As well as his colorful opinions, Strine is also known for
his courtroom digressions, which have ranged from discussions of
incentives driving investor bankers to the NBC television show
"America's Got Talent" and the mysteries of the Catholic faith.
At a hearing last week, Strine called a dispute between
fashion star Tory Burch and her former husband a "drunken
WASP-fest," and spent several minutes discussing where white
Anglo-Saxon Protestants can pick up Izod and Polo brand shirts
on the cheap.
The Chancery case is Auriga Capital Corp v Gatz Properties
LLC, No. 4390. The Supreme Court appeal is Gatz Properties LLC v
Auriga Capital Corp No. 148, 2012.