Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

State Senate confirms Carney's two Delaware Supreme Court nominees

Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s State Senate confirmed both of Gov. John Carney’s state Supreme Court nominees on Wednesday evening.

Newly-confirmed Justice Abigail LeGrow, who previously served as a clerk for former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Jack B. Jacobs, more recently served on the Superior Court bench in New Castle County.

The Senate also confirmed Justice N. Christopher Griffiths, a Wilmington attorney who also served as the solicitor for several Delaware municipalities, including the City of New Castle.

In a Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday, Griffiths faced scrutiny from some lawmakers for a January 2023 DUI arrest, but a majority agreed the incident was not disqualifying; Griffiths expressed remorse, but noted the experience leaves him more empathetic towards justice-involved Delawareans whose cases could come before the Supreme Court.

Senators from Kent and Sussex Counties – both Democrats and Republicans – also raised objections to Carney’s decision to nominate two New Castle County residents to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, leaving Kent County without a resident on the court for the first time since 1978.

Downstate lawmakers argued that geographic diversity on the court improves Justice's ability to consider the nuances of cases that rise to their jurisdiction; state Sen. Trey Paradee called the new absence of a Kent County voice "insulting."

Griffiths contended that he – a Black man – would provide needed racial diversity on the court, and he plans to build relationships in Kent County to ensure its needs are addressed.

“I will do everything I can to learn Kent County," he said. "Kent County will be a second home to me if I’m so lucky to be confirmed."

LeGrow's appointment also marks the first time that two women hold seats on Delaware's Supreme Court.

All Republican senators either voted against both nominees or did not vote, in large part to protest the absence of a Kent County resident on the court.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.