Posted: April 25, 2003
There was a party Thursday evening to mark
Vincent J. Poppiti's exit as the Family Court's chief judge, but it
was difficult to decide what to call it.
"Retirement party" didn't seem right, because
Poppiti has a new job as a partner at Blank Rome, a firm
headquartered in Philadelphia with a growing Wilmington office.
"Going-away party" was certainly wrong,
because Poppiti wasn't leaving. His talent for singing and acting is
expected to keep him going at Delaware's theatres, weddings, bar
mitzvahs and so on. William E. Manning, a good friend and fellow
lawyer, calls Poppiti a "judge in tights."
Whatever it was, dozens of people showed up at
Buena Vista, the state conference center on U.S. 13 near New Castle,
to recognize Poppiti for 24 years on the bench, including the last
11 years running one of Delaware's six courts. His last day was
The crowd included Chancellor William B.
Chandler III and Chief Magistrate Patricia W. Griffin, two other
presiding judges in the state judiciary. Griffin is being mentioned
prominently, along with Family Court Judge Kenneth M. Millman, as a
possible replacement for Poppiti.
Lawrence M. Sullivan, the public defender, and
Joseph P. Farley Sr., the Conectiv lobbyist, were asked to speak.
This is a little like asking for a blindfold and last cigarette.
Sullivan, who has been a pal of Poppiti's for
more than 25 years, said they had a mutual admiration society,
referring to one another as the greatest judge in the world and the
greatest public defender. "That's how we stayed friends all these
years, by lying to each other," he said.
While Sullivan talked, Poppiti sat royally in
a chair beside him to object and overrule.
Sullivan said Poppiti characterized the chief
judgeship as something like a fire hydrant. "You spend all your time
putting out fires and then standing your guard against the big
dogs," Sullivan said.
"I didn't say it that way," Poppiti said.
Sullivan said Poppiti also likened the job to
a cemetery. "He had lots of people under him, but none of them were
listening," Sullivan said.
"I didn't say that, either," Poppiti said.
Meanwhile, Farley zeroed in on one of the
greatest puzzles about Poppiti. "Are there two p's and one
t in Poppiti? Two t's and one p?
P-o-p-p-i-t-t-i?" Farley cracked.
Farley was funnier than he knew. Poppiti
confessed that his partnership agreement with Blank Rome was made
out to "Vincent J. Poppito." He sent it back. It's three p's,
one t, two i's and one ee-aye-ee-aye-o.
# # #
The offices of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Thomas
R. Carper, Delaware's pair of Democratic senators, are in flux with
the departure of two familiar staff members for the private side.
John T. Dorsey, who spent the last three years
as Biden's state director, is returning to lawyering as a special
counsel with Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor in Wilmington.
Dorsey, who previously worked at the
Wilmington law firm of Richards Layton & Finger, joined Biden's
staff after running as the Democratic candidate for attorney general
in 1998. He said he expects to stay active in politics, although he
doesn't have any plans to run again himself.
Brian R. Selander has left his job as Carper's
communications director to become the managing director of Silver
Oak Solutions, procurement specialists who include Delaware in their
list of government and commercial clients.
Selander got his start in politics in New
Jersey. He worked in New Hampshire on the 1998 gubernatorial
campaign for Jeanne Shaheen and the 2000 presidential campaign for
Bill Bradley before handling media relations for Carper.
Dorsey's job has yet to be filled. Jennifer
Connell is the acting communications director for Carper.
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