Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. is set to deliver his annual budget remarks to lawmakers in Dover on Wednesday, in an address that is expected to highlight the courts’ priorities for the 2020 fiscal year.
Strine’s presentation to the General Assembly’s joint finance committee, slated for 2:30 p.m., is expected to renew calls for additional funding to complete two new downstate court facilities and create a stable technology fund for the courts, both a major focus of the Judiciary in recent years.
Last year, the Judiciary received approximately $97.3 million in state funds through the annual appropriation process, an increase of 1.17 percent increase over the $96,236,400 it got the previous year. Part of that funding was used to create two new judgeships on the Court of Chancery, after an extensive study of the court’s caseload showed a significant uptick in complex commercial litigation on top of its traditional docket of corporate governance cases.
Strine has continued to stress the importance of completing the two new Family Court buildings in Kent and Sussex Counties, painting it as safety issue and a matter of fairness, given the role of the legal services industry in propping up the formation of business entities—the most important source of state revenue.
He has also highlighted the need to update the courts’ aging technology and called for a reliable source of funds, instead of having to replace gear and systems when they reach a point of crisis.
Strine is also expected to tout changes in Wilmington to make the justice system more accessible to residents. The Judiciary plans to open a community resource center this year in the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center’s law library, and the Administrative Office of the Courts has already begun work on transforming courthouse law libraries into self-help centers.