WILMINGTON — Former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland, who was both the youngest justice on the state’s highest court when appointed and the longest-serving when he retired, died Tuesday in 75 years old.
A cause of death was not immediately available on Wednesday when his death was announced by heads of state.
Holland, who continued to practice law as a senior adviser in the national cabinet Wilson Sonsinoit’s Wilmington Bureau, was widely considered one of Delaware’s foremost experts on the Constitution and was frequently called upon to weigh in in legislative and legal battles over some of the founding principles of the First State.
Barely two years ago, he was one of the lawyers successfully defend the state and Governor John Carney before the United States Supreme Court in a case that would have significantly changed the composition of Delaware’s judicial offices.
On Wednesday, Carney called Holland’s death a “huge loss to our state.”
“Justice Holland has been a true public servant and a constant source of wisdom on the Delaware Supreme Court for more than three decades. He had an in-depth knowledge of the Constitution and Delaware’s unique history. His books on the Delaware Constitution have served as a guide to countless officials in our state. And I have personally sought his advice on several occasions during my tenure,” the governor said in a statement. “Judge Holland left his mark in our history books by serving on Delaware’s highest court longer than anyone. He was a model and caring jurist who will be sorely missed. Tracey and I pray for Judge Holland’s family and his many friends across our state, during this difficult time.”
A gifted young athlete, the Milford High School alum would graduate with honors from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prior to his appointment to the state bench, Holland worked in private practice, becoming a partner at Wilmington Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell Powerhouse.
He became the youngest person to serve on the Delaware Supreme Court when he was appointed by the then Governor. Michael Castle in 1986 and confirmed by the Delaware Senate. He was reappointed twice for additional 12-year terms, by Governor Tom Carper and in 2011 by Governor Jack Markell. In 2009, he became the longest serving judge in Delaware history and served until his retirement. in 2017.
Throughout his 30-year tenure on the bench, Holland wrote more than 700 reported opinions and several thousand ruling orders. He has also published two widely read and cited books on the Delaware Constitution, including “Delaware Constitution of 1897, The First One Hundred Years” and “The Delaware Constitution: A Reference Guide”. In 2009, he co-authored a collection of law school cases on this topic from the perspective of all 50 states titled “State Constitutional Law, The Modern Experience.” With Holland’s encouragement, the Conference of Chief Justices passed a unanimous resolution recommending that all law schools offer courses on state constitutions.
As news of Holland’s passing spread on Wednesday, tributes began pouring in across the state.
“His longevity on the bench is a result of his vast knowledge of the law and our state, and the respect and professionalism he upheld on and off the bench,” Sen. Carper said in a statement. “Justice Holland was more than a Supreme Court justice, he was also a world-renowned historian and author and wrote a number of books on the Delaware court system. Delaware — and its court system — is a better place because of its service off the bench.
Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr., who served with Holland during his final two years on the bench, called his former colleague “one of our greatest public servants.” Noting that his “compelling and authoritative opinions in all areas of the law have stood the test of time,” Seitz also said Holland “has championed the highest ethical standards for lawyers and judges in Delaware.” .
“What Judge Randy Holland will be most remembered for is his kindness, humility and kindness, and his personal notes written in a blue felt-tip pen,” the Chief Justice said in a statement, noting that the judiciary would honor him later. .
“Justice Holland was a great historical jurist of the Court,” said former Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey, who served with Holland for 12 years, from 1992 to 2004. “Indeed, he was a jurist by excellence and intellectual, with an extraordinary grounded in law and a wonderful sense of justice and fairness… Above all, he was a warm and noble human being – a truly good man in every way.
“Delaware just lost one of its true servants,” added former Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr., who served with Holland from 2014 to 2017. “No one liked our state or its bar more than Justice Holland. Through his dedication to the legal profession, his promotion of bench-bar relationships through the Inns of Court movement, his preservation of our state’s history, and his concern for the most vulnerable litigants – especially the children served by our family court – Randy has made our state a better place and solidified its reputation as a legal center of excellence.We will miss his friendship and are deeply sorry for the irreplaceable loss of his family.
The Delaware State Senate Democratic Caucus called Holland “one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and dedicated jurists Delaware has ever known.” They had worked alongside Holland for the past five months as he walked them through the Delaware Constitution in an attempt to answer questions about his direction on crimes committed by officials and the ability to remove officials from their positions. functions. This work was spurred by the indictment of State Auditor Kathryn McGuiness for felony and misdemeanor related to abuse of office. She pleaded her innocence and will be tried in May.
“During this time, we discovered that Judge Holland’s reputation was well deserved, but also failed to capture the kindness, humor and grace he brought to every meeting and phone call. “, the caucus said in a statement.
In addition to advising the General Assembly and representing the governor in recent cases, Holland also recently chaired a judiciary committee tasked with working on bail reform in domestic violence cases. Four years ago, the Randy J. Holland Family Law Endowment was established in his honor for the Combined Campaign for Justice to fund a full-time fellow position to meet the family law needs of low-income families. income.
For many years he taught corporate governance, appeals practice and state constitutional law and often focused on business ethics. Holland has traveled overseas to advance corporate governance and ethics, including working with Taiwan’s judicial system. On several occasions, he hosted visiting delegations from Taiwan to Delaware.