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During a private ceremony at the National Courts Building in
Washington, D.C., Leonard P. Stark was sworn in as a U.S. Judge for the
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Chief Judge Kimberly A. Moore
(left) administered the oath to Stark while he put his hand on a Lincoln
Bible, which was held by his wife, Beth Stark.
It’s no easy feat to get on Leonard P. Stark’s calendar. But that’s
no surprise, given that his peers in the legal profession routinely use
words like “assiduous” and “indefatigable” to describe him. In his most
recent position, as Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the
District of Delaware, Stark carried one of the heaviest caseloads of any
federal judge. The bulk of his cases focused on patents and securities.
Late in 2021, President Joe Biden tapped Stark — a fellow alumnus of
the University of Delaware — to be the next member of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. The Federal Circuit
hears appeals in patent cases from Delaware courts, as well as courts
across the nation. His nomination passed the U.S. Senate in February by a
61-35 vote, and he was officially sworn in March 17, in a private
ceremony in Washington, D.C.
While Stark’s work life has now become even busier, his personal life
has been hectic lately, too. He and his wife, Beth (née Brofee), also a
UD graduate, are excited to get to know D.C. better.
Stark earned not one, not two, but three degrees (plus a minor) from
UD in the time it takes most to earn one degree. But Stark brushes off
praise at his academic accomplishments and instead turns the
conversation to the ways that UD faculty and staff supported his
“Everyone was always so welcoming,” Stark said. “No matter what crazy
academic ambitions I came up with, the consistent response was always:
‘How can we help you?’”
His UD degrees include a bachelor’s degree with honors in political
science, a bachelor’s degree with distinction in economics, a minor in
women’s studies, and a master’s degree in European medieval and early
modern history. During his senior year, Stark became the seventh UD
alumnus to win a Rhodes Scholarship, which took him to Oxford University
in England for two years, where he received his doctorate in politics.
He then graduated from Yale Law School in 1996.
Stark said that UD was an environment where he thrived, under mentors
including Joseph A. Pika, the James R. Soles Emeritus Professor of
Political Science; James J. Magee, the Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor
Emeritus of Political Science and International Relations; and Lawrence
Duggan, a professor of history, all of whom Stark stays in touch with
today. He also talked about the “legendary mentor” Jim Soles, who was a
UD Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus until his passing in 2010.
“I was able to do undergraduate research at UD, and hone my writing,
as I have always loved to write,” Stark said. His discourse skills were
sharpened much earlier, at dinner table debates with his father, a New
York corporate lawyer. “He won every debate,” Stark said with a laugh.
He sounded wistful as he noted that his father passed away before he
could see his son become appointed as a federal judge in 2007.
“My dad was a huge fan of UD, and my mom still is today,” Stark said.
Upon his graduation, his parents, Linda and Walter Stark, established
the Lewis Lewin Stark Scholarship Fund for incoming honors students. The
fund is named in honor of Stark’s grandparents.
Beyond his praise for UD’s academic excellence, Stark found personal happiness.
“I met my wife, Beth, on the first day of class and we married when I was in law school,” he said.
Beth Stark is an accomplished garden designer who manages UD’s
Goodstay Gardens on the University’s Wilmington campus, and she works
with private clients. At Goodstay, she is the sole garden staffer,
assisted by a cadre of volunteers from the Friends of Goodstay Gardens.
When she’s persistent enough, she gets her husband to take a break from
his relentless work pace and enjoy a stroll in the gardens. “They really
are beautiful gardens,” Stark said, “and my goal is to actually get out
and enjoy them more, despite my new position.”
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Goodstay Gardens is located on the UD Wilmington campus at 2700
Pennsylvania Avenue. The gardens are located behind Osher Lifelong
Learning Institute and adjacent to the Goodstay Center Mansion. The
gardens are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk, year-round. Visit the garden website to learn more.
Article by Margo McDonough, photo courtesy of United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Originally published April 25, 2022