Richard Seymour Rodney

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Richard Seymour Rodney (October 10, 1882 – December 22, 1963) was a United States federal judge.

Born in New Castle, Delaware, Rodney served in the Delaware National Guard from 1899 to 1913, achieving the rank of First Lieutenant. He also read law to enter the bar in 1906, and was in private practice in Wilmington, Delaware from 1906 to 1922, serving as Mayor of New Castle, Delaware from 1911 to 1917. He was an associate judge of the Supreme Court of Delaware from 1922 to 1946.

In 1945, Chief Justice Daniel J. Layton, who had a reputation for being combative towards attorneys appearing before him, failed to be reappointed to the Supreme Court of Delaware. Governor Walter W. Bacon, a Republican, nominated Layton and Judge Charles S. Richards, both well-known Republicans, to succeed themselves as chief justice and associate justice respectively, but the Delaware Senate, a majority of whom were also Republicans, twice rejected both nominees. It was generally said that the opposition to Layton was mounted by Hugh M. Morris, a former United States District Court judge but then a practicing attorney in Wilmington, and joined in by certain Sussex County lawyers who thought they had suffered too long under Layton's wrath in the courtroom. In a compromise arrangement. The Governor of Delaware withdrew Layton's name and nominated Judge Richards to be the new chief justice. He was confirmed. The governor then appointed James B. Carey of Georgetown to be the resident judge for Sussex County, succeeding Judge Richards.

In 1946, however, when Rodney's term ended, Governor Bacon took his revenge for the Senate's rejection of Layton, letting it be known that, notwithstanding the fact that the constitution required the appointment of a Democrat, under no circumstances would he reappoint Democrat Rodney. In January 1946 Governor Bacon nominated Vice-Chancellor George Burton Pearson, Jr. to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the expiration of Judge Rodney’s term of office. Pearson, a close friend and admirer of Judge Rodney, had supported his candidacy for reappointment and, in the end, he accepted the governor's offer only when it became certain that Judge Rodney would not be reappointed.

Rodney then returned briefly to private practice. On July 25, 1946, Rodney was nominated by President Harry S. Truman to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware created by 60 Stat. 654. Rodney was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 27, 1946, and received his commission on July 31, 1946. He assumed senior status on January 1, 1957, serving in that capacity until his death.


Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware
Succeeded by
Caleb Rodney Layton III