By Tom Hals
(Reuters) - Delaware Gov. Jack Markell nominated James Vaughn, a 15-year veteran of the state's Superior Court, to the Delaware Supreme Court, which plays a key role in interpreting U.S. corporate law.
If confirmed by the state's senate during a special session on Oct. 8, Vaughn, 65, will fill the vacancy left by the Sept. 1 retirement of Carolyn Berger. He would also become the third justice to join the five-member court this year, a year of rapid turnover after almost a decade without change.
Vaughn has served since 2004 as president of the Superior Court, which hears criminal and civil cases and appeals from the Court of Common Pleas.
The state's high court had gone nine years without a personnel change until Myron Steele resigned as chief justice last year. He was replaced by Leo Strine, who was elevated from the role of chief judge on the Court of Chancery, which specializes in disputes involving the state's corporate law.
The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and is closely watched on Wall Street because it has the final word on Delaware's corporate law, which governs how most U.S. companies interact with investors.
Last year the Supreme Court overturned a Court of Chancery ruling that cleared the way for an $8.2 billion deal between Activision Blizzard Inc and Vivendi SA.
Earlier this year in a case involving ATP Tour Inc, which oversees men's professional tennis, the Supreme Court said corporate bylaws could be used to discourage litigation by requiring the losing party to pay the other parties legal fees, upending long-standing U.S. tradition.
Vaughn joined the Superior Court after 22 years in private practice. He obtained his law degree from Georgetown University Law School.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Richard Chang)