June 22 (Reuters) - One of the most important venues in the United States for corporate disputes, Delaware’s Court of Chancery, is losing one of its five judges after Donald Parsons said on Monday he will retire in October.
Parsons, 66, informed Delaware Governor Jack Markell in a letter that he will not seek a second 12-year term as vice chancellor after his current post expires on Oct. 22.
“The vice chancellor’s decision to retire from the court is a substantial loss to both the Court of Chancery and our state,” Markell said in a statement.
More than half of the U.S. publicly traded companies are chartered in Delaware, and corporate disputes often end up before one of the five judges on the Court of Chancery, which does not hold jury trials.
Among Parsons high-profile cases was a fight over the value of Chrysler by the carmaker’s two key shareholders, Italian automaker Fiat and a U.S. autoworker’s healthcare trust. Fiat settled the dispute out of court last year.
Markell, a Democrat serving his second term as governor, has had unusual sway in shaping the Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court, the two courts that matter most for interpreting the state’s corporate law.
Markell has appointed Andre Bouchard, the chancellor or chief judge, Vice Chancellor Travis Laster and Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock to the Court of Chancery. The governor has also appointed four of the five members of the state’s Supreme Court, which has the final say on interpreting the state’s corporate law, including Chief Justice Leo Strine.
Applicants for Parsons’ spot on the bench will be vetted by a merit selection committee, which sends a shortened list to the governor. The governor’s nominee for the bench must be approved by the state Senate. (Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Leslie Adler)