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Court of Common Pleas Chief Judge Alex Smalls announces retirement

Court of Common Pleas Chief Judge Alex J. Smalls

A trailblazing Black judge in Delaware is retiring this year.

After 29 years on the bench, Court of Common Pleas Chief Judge Alex Smalls recently informed Gov. John Carney that he plans to step down May 1, 2021.

In a letter to the Gov., Smalls said he felt it was time for a change.

Chief Judge Smalls began his career on the bench in the former Municipal Court for the City of Wilmington in 1991. He was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1993 and elevated to Chief Judge there in 1997, making him the first African American to serve as a Chief or President Judge of any Delaware State Court. 

Smalls’ tenure as Common Pleas Chief Judge included overseeing and implementing numerous innovations like the creation of drug diversion programs and specialty courts such as the DUI Court.

“Chief Judge Smalls has had a remarkable judicial career,” said Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. “He has led one of the State’s busiest courts with great distinction. Litigants and attorneys who appeared before him, and his judicial colleagues, know the Chief Judge as a humble, caring and compassionate man. We thank him for his service to the citizens of the First State.”


Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.