Delaware mourns the loss of Justice Randy J. Holland

Randy J. Holland
Justice Randy J. Holland

The Delaware Supreme Court is mourning the loss of retired Justice Randy J. Holland, the youngest member ever appointed to the Supreme Court in the history of the state.

The Delaware Judiciary was saddened to learn of the passing of retired Supreme Court Justice Randy J. Holland on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. The Delaware Courts have sent their condolences to Justice Holland’s family and friends and all those who worked with Justice Holland over his many years on the Court.

“The Delaware Judiciary mourns the loss of one of our greatest public servants,” said Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. who served with Justice Holland from 2015 to 2017. “Randy Holland served on the Delaware Supreme Court for over 30 years. He wrote cogent and authoritative opinions in all areas of the law that have withstood the test of time. He championed the highest ethical standards for Delaware lawyers and judges. As president of the American Inns of Court, he worked to further its nationwide mission to improve the skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar. Most recently, he chaired a court committee to work on bail reform in domestic violence cases. What Justice Randy Holland will be most remembered for is his kindness, humility, and graciousness, and his personal notes written with a blue felt tip pen. The Supreme Court will recognize this giant of a man in a future event. His family will be in our prayers.”

Justice Holland was appointed and reappointed to the Delaware Supreme Court by three different Governors and served with four different Chief Justices during his tenure on the bench.

At his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1986 by Governor Mike Castle, Justice Holland became the youngest person ever to serve on the state’s highest court and went on to also become the Court’s longest serving Justice at his retirement in March 2017. Throughout his 30 years on the bench, Justice Holland wrote more than 700 reported opinions and several thousand case dispositive orders.

“Delaware just lost one of its true servants,” said former Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr., who served with Justice Holland from 2014 to 2017. “No one loved our state or its bar more than Justice Holland. Through his dedication to the judicial craft, his fostering of bench-bar relations through the Inns of Court movement, his preservation of our state’s history, and his concern for the most vulnerable of litigants – particularly the children served by our Family Court – Randy made our state a better place and burnished its reputation as a legal center of excellence. We will miss his friendship and are profoundly sorry for his family’s irreplaceable loss.”

During his years on the Court, Justice Holland was known as not only an expert on state constitutional law but also as an avid historian of Delaware and the Delaware Supreme Court. He authored or co-authored ten books, including two books on the Delaware Constitution, two histories of the Delaware Supreme Court, and a History of the Delaware Bar in the Twentieth Century in addition to many law review articles.

“Justice Holland was a great and historic jurist of the Court,” said former Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey, who served with Justice Holland from 1992 to 2004. “Indeed, he was a quintessential and intellectual jurist, with an extraordinary grounding in the law and a marvelous sense of fairness and equity. He was the longest-serving justice in the history of the Court, having been sworn in to the Court as the youngest justice in the history of the Court in 1986. He was appointed to three 12-year terms on the Court from his investiture and served thirty years until he retired from the Court in March 2017. Not only was he historically long-serving as a jurist but also he was an extraordinarily gifted and scholarly writer, having authored or co- authored ten books and treatises as well as innumerable articles. Above all, he was a warm and noble human being – a truly good man in all respects. He was devoted to his wife of 50 years, Dr. Ilona Holland, their son, Ethan, daughter-in-law, Jen, and their granddaughters, Rori and Chloe. He will be missed in ways we have not begun to fathom by all who knew him, worked with him, and admired him.”

Justice Holland graduated from Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he received the Loughlin Award for legal ethics. He later earned a Master of Laws in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia Law School and was awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees by the Delaware Law School and Swarthmore College.

Justice Holland taught corporate governance, appellate practice and state constitutional law and frequently focused on business ethics. He travelled internationally to advance corporate governance and ethics including working with the justice system in Taiwan. On several occasions he hosted visiting delegations from Taiwan to Delaware.

After leaving the Delaware Supreme Court, he became Senior of Counsel in the Wilmington office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. In 2018 the Randy J. Holland Family Law Endowment was created in his honor for the Combined Campaign for Justice to fund a full-time fellowship position to serve the family law needs for low-income families.

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