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Retiring Chief Justice Leo Strine makes final pitch for new courthouses

Chief Justice Leo Strine

Retiring State Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine is making one last plea for new courthouses.

Strine leaves office this week after serving as Delaware’s Chief Justice for five years. He’s argued for virtually his entire tenure that the Kent and Sussex Family Court facilities are outdated and lack critical security features.

Strine’s been urging the state to build the courthouses using a public-private partnership approach, where it would make annual lease or mortgage payments. He likens it to buying a house.

“I don’t know about any of you, I didn’t buy my house with cash," he said. "By the time I would have been able to buy my house with cash, my kids would have already been in college and they would have never had a house to live in. So what did I do? Like most Americans, I got a mortgage.”

Or else the Judicial Branch wants $100 million for Fiscal Year 2021 to start construction.

“Now we think it’s stupid to do it the normal way, but we’re not going to sugarcoat it," he said. "That’s what it costs.”

Strine estimates it would cost up to 250 million dollar over the next three years to build the courthouses without a public-private partnership.

Strine argues using a public-private partnership would only be 20-to-30 million dollars a year and it’s more cost-efficient.

He had hoped the Bond Bill Committee would add the courthouse funding in the current fiscal year’s budget, but state lawmakers decided to form a committee to make a final recommendation. The report is due by Dec. 1st.

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