After a trailblazing career in Delaware, 41 year old Tamika Montgomery-Reeves is poised to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Tamika Renee Montgomery-Reeves was born on April 29, 1981. Montgomery-Reeves attended the University of Mississippi, graduating magna cum laude. She continued on to the University of Georgia Law School. She then clerked on the Delaware Court of Chancery and then joined Weil Gotschal & Manges in New York City before becoming a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Wilmington Delaware.
In 2015, Montgomery-Reeves was appointed by Governor Jack Markell to the Delaware Court of Chancery. In 2019, she was elevated to the Delaware Supreme Court by Governor John Carney, where she currently serves.
History of the Seat
Montgomery-Reeves has been nominated to Judge Thomas Ambro’s seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Ambro was nominated to the Third Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and will take senior status upon the confirmation of a successor.
For approximately ten years before she was appointed to the bench, Montgomery-Reeves worked in private practice in both New York and Delaware, focusing largely on business and commercial litigation.
Among the notable cases she handled, Montgomery-Reeves successfully convinced the Delaware Court of Chancery that an advancement suit is required to go to arbitration. See Riley v. Brocade Communs. Sys., 2014 Del. Ch. LEXIS 71 (Del. Ch. 2014). In another case, Montgomery-Reeves defended a merger against a class action suit brought by stockholders. See In re Riverbed Tech., Inc. Stockholders Litig., 2015 Del. Ch. LEXIS 241 (Del. Ch. 2015).
Montgomery-Reeves served on the Delaware Court of Chancery between 2015 and 2019. When she was appointed to the seat in 2015, she was the first african american judge on the court. See Randall Chase, Delaware Senate Approves Cabinet, Court Nominees, A.P. State & Local, Oct. 28, 2015. On the Chancery Court, Montgomery-Reeves oversaw suits in equity (suits seeking injunctions or court orders of specific performance).
In her first key opinion on the Court of Chancery, Montgomery-Reeves found the directors of Volcano Corp. did not violate their fiduciary duties to their stockholders in closing a deal to the sell the company. See David Marcus, Chancery’s Montgomery-Reeves Extends Business Judgment Protections to Tender Offers, The Deal Pipeline, July 6, 20166. Her ruling was unanimously affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court. See David Marcus, Delaware Supreme Court Upholds Extension of KKR, The Deal Pipeline, Feb. 9, 2017.
In another suit, Montgomery-Reeves dismissed a suit filed against Mattel’s Board of Directors after they declined to respond to a shareholder demand letter seeking documentation connected to a severance payout to a former executive. See Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Delaware Chancery Court Throws Out Claims Over $10 Million Severance Payment to CEO, JD Supra, Jan. 26, 2017. In contrast, Montgomery-Reeves declined to dismiss a breach of fiduciary duty suit arising from directors’ decisions to award themselves stock options in subsidiary corporations. See Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Delaware Chancery Court Declines to Dismiss Challenges to Director Option Grants and Outside Investor Voting Agreement, JD Supra, July 11, 2017.
Since 2019, Montgomery-Reeves has served as Associate Justice on the Delaware Supreme Court, the highest court in Delaware. She was Delaware’s first African American Supreme Court Justice.
While on the court, Montgomery-Reeves authored a majority opinion finding that Delaware law did not prevent “sophisticated” stockholders who were represented by counsel from waiving their rights under law for an appraisal of their stock value at sale as part of their stockholder agreements. See Delaware Supreme Court Enforces Waiver of Statutory Appraisal Rights, Impact Financial News, Sept. 20, 2021. Montgomery-Reeves also authored a majority opinion upholding a $6.1 million verdict for shareholders in a breach of fiduciary duty case. See Jeff Montgomery, Del. Justices Uphold Mixed $6M Ruling on Solar Co. Breaches, Law360, Oct. 14, 2021.
Outside the commercial litigation context, Montgomery-Reeves wrote the majority opinion holding that Senate records submitted to the University of Delaware archives by President Biden were not subject to demands under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act. See Jeff Montgomery, Del. Justices Mostly Uphold FOIA Block on Biden Senate Docs, Law360, Dec. 7, 2021.
Over the last fifteen years, Montgomery-Reeves has built a strong reputation in the Delaware legal community. Additionally, there is still little in Montgomery-Reeves’ record to warrant strong opposition to the Third Circuit. As such, it is likely that Montgomery-Reeves would have a relatively painless confirmation to the Third Circuit.