I can’t believe he’s not here in person. I would have expected at any time to be able to pick up the phone as usual and talk with him. Ah, but he is here. He left an indelible legacy and his noble spirit lives on.
I came to know Randy after he famously went on the Delaware Supreme Court in 1986 as the youngest justice ever. But despite his young age, he was already a polished professional and a distinguished scholar to blend with his gracious persona of a warm human being we all came to know so well.
In late 1991, there was a probability of an impending vacancy in the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware. Names of judges lawyers were rooted about in the political landscape for weeks In late 1991. And early 1992, there was a lot of speculation. Randy Holland’s name was prominently mentioned as a very likely person to be the next Chief Justice.
I agreed wholeheartedly that he should be the chosen one. Indeed, he would have been a great and historic Chief Justice. So I called him on the phone and urged him to take that position.
He demurred unselfishly and urged me to accept the appointment as Chief Justice. The rest is history. Randy and I served together on the court in harmony with the other justices, during my 12 year term from 1992 to 2004.
Randy had a glowing reputation as a mentor to young lawyers shaping their careers. Actually, Randy was a mentor to me. As Chief Justice.
I was a rookie. Everything I knew about being a Chief Justice of the five member appellate court, stemmed from my being involved as an advocate for 34 years. I did not know anything about the inner workings of the Supreme Court.
Soon after I was sworn in as Chief Justice in 1992, I asked Randy to sit down and give me a tutorial on how to function as Chief Justice. And he said simply, Norm, you don’t need a tutorial. You know, there are five justices, and you just need to be able to count to three.
This was an example of Randy’s extraordinary sense of humor that blended in nicely with his brilliance as a judge and his kindness to everybody. He was well loved by everyone with whom he interacted. And this can clearly be attributed to his brilliance, hard work, unselfishness, and kindness.
Aside from his many other attributes, he was an extraordinarily gifted public speaker whose delivery and articulation, usually without any notes was brief, solid, and persuasive.
Randy served seemingly without trying as the intellectual and political glue to bring the three branches of government in Delaware together.
He was appointed to the court in bipartisan fashion for over 30 years by three governors from both political parties. He was confirmed unanimously by senators of both parties. Indeed, we need only to witness the sincere tributes from the leaders of the branches of government following his passing.
For the judicial branch, Chief Justice Seitz, who served on the Supreme Court as a colleague during Randy’s final two years on the court, said Randy. This is a quote. “Randy 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.” End of quote.
One of the most gracious things about Randy came from the legislative branch at the request of the Delaware Senate Majority Caucus. Randy consulted with the Caucus about the application of a novel and challenging provision of the state constitution.
The Caucus said, and I quote, “We were blessed to work alongside Justice Holland for the last five months of his life as he guided us through unexplored sections of the Delaware Constitution. During that time, we discovered Justice Holland’s reputation was well-deserved, but also somehow fell short of capturing his kindness, humor and grace that he brought to every meeting and phone call. In an area in which impressive resumes are the norm. Justice Holland stood out in every respect. He was a true icon of judicial excellence. One of the most respected constitutional law experts in Delaware. Justice Holland was also a champion of the vulnerable and underprivileged. A mentor to generations of young lawyers and a model professional ethics and good.”
For the executive branch, Governor Carney said eloquently about Justice Holland, “He had a deep knowledge of the Constitution and Delaware’s unique history. His books on the Delaware Constitution have served as a guide for countless public officials in our state. I have personally sought his counsel many times during my terms in office. He was a thoughtful model jurist and will be greatly missed.” End of quote.
In my opinion, he was, this is back to me again. In my opinion, he was a unique blend of all that was good and worthy. He was truly a good man.
His son Ethan said about him, quote, “He was a very tender man, and he believed in people. He was genuinely kind.” End of quote.
We all were honored to have known Randy as a family member, colleague and friend. We have gathered here personally and virtually to express our collective memories of Randy Holland’s great career and to express also our collective and deepest sympathy to Ilona, Ethan, Jennifer, Rori and Chloe on their irreplaceable loss.