Longtime state Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland announces retirement


DOVER — Randy Holland, the longest serving Supreme Court justice in state history, will retire at the end of March, the courts announced Thursday.

Justice Holland, 70, was first appointed by Gov. Mike Castle in 1986. He was re-appointed 12 years later by Gov. Tom Carper and then again by Gov. Jack Markell in 2011.

“I just feel that after 30 years it is time to retire,” Justice Holland said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to pursuing other opportunities, like teaching.”

The resignation will give Gov. John Carney, who took office in January, his first chance to put his imprint on the judiciary. However, he will be somewhat limited — because of state laws requiring balance on the courts, Justice Holland, a Republican, must be replaced by a Republican.

Randy Holland

“Justice Holland has been a model jurist and a steady source of wisdom on Delaware’s Supreme Court for more than 30 years,” the governor said in a statement. “His thoughtfulness and deep knowledge of Delaware history and the Delaware Constitution will be missed. We should all thank Justice Holland for his service to the people of Delaware and to our great judiciary.”

At 39 years of age when he was first selected, Justice Holland is also the youngest person to ever serve on the Delaware Supreme Court.

Applications for the open seat will be submitted to the Judicial Nominating Committee, which then will recommend a person to Gov. Carney. While the governor has the power to reject that selection, governors historically choose to formally nominate the individual recommended to them.

Justice Holland is currently the only member of the Supreme Court from Sussex County, and while no law requires geographic balance, there have traditionally been representatives from each county on the court.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he was a partner at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell before joining the court.

He has published two books on the Delaware Constitution, received several awards and served on a number of national committees dealing with the law.

The Supreme Court saw a spate of retirements in 2014 and 2015, meaning that save for Justice Holland, every member has served on the court for three years or less.

The court is currently composed of Chief Justice Leo Strine and Justices Holland, Karen Valihura, James T. Vaughn Jr. and Collins J. Seitz Jr.

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