Jan R. Jurden

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Jan R. Jurden
Court Information:
New Castle County Superior Court, Delaware
Title:   Judge
Appointed by:   Gov. Ruth Ann Minner
Active:   2001-2025
Past post:   Partner, Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor
Past term:   1996-2001
Personal History
Hometown:   Delaware
Undergraduate:   Muhlenberg College, 1985
Law School:   Dickinson School of Law, 1988
Military service:   United States Army

Jan R. Jurden is a judge on the New Castle County Superior Court in New Castle County, Delaware.[1] She was appointed to the court by former Governor Ruth Ann Minner in May 2001 and has overseen the court's mental health court since 2008.[2] She was reappointed in 2013 for a term that will expire in 2025.[3]

On December 1, 2014, Governor Jack Markell nominated Jurden to serve as the next president judge of the Superior Court of Delaware. The Delaware State Senate confirmed her nomination on December 16, 2014.[4][5]


Jurden received her B.A. from Muhlenberg College in 1985 and her J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law (now the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University) in 1988.[1]


Awards and associations


  • 2011: Outstanding Service to the Courts and Bar Award, Delaware State Bar Association
  • 2009: Sylvia H. Rambo Award, Women’s Law Caucus of the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law
  • 1997: Caleb R. Layton III Service Award
  • 1996: New Lawyers Distinguished Service Award [1]


  • American Bar
  • Delaware State Bar Associations
  • National Association of Women Judges
  • Advisory Committee on the Delaware Rules of Evidence and the Advisory Committee on Professionalism [1]

Notable cases

Child rapist avoids prison time

Though Robert H. Richards IV was convicted in 2008 of raping his three-year-old daughter, he avoided prison time after Judge Jurden ruled: "Defendant will not fare well in Level 5 setting" ("Level 5" refers to prison).[6] She also wrote in the order: "Treatment needs exceed need for punishment."[6] The 2009 sentence was not well-known until 2014, when a lawsuit filed against Richards by his ex-wife seeking damages brought the situation to light. The lawsuit accused Richards of abusing his son as well.

Richards pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his daughter several times in 2005. He told the three-year-old that it was "our little secret." The girl told her grandmother about the situation in 2007.

Richards was initially indicted on two counts of second-degree rape of a child. A conviction for those felonies would have carried a mandatory minimum of ten years in jail for each count. However, prior to the trial, prosecutor Renee Hrivnak offered a plea deal to a single count of fourth-degree rape in exchange for a confession. Richards accepted. He was convicted of this charge, which includes a maximum of fifteen years in prison, but a suggested sentence (according to sentencing guidelines) of 0-2.5 years. Judge Jurden handed down an 8-year sentence but suspended all prison time in favor of probation. The sentence also carried stipulations that Richards complete treatment programs and stay away from children under 16.

The sentence caused some backlash:

Our prisons should be more rehabilitative environments, but the prison system's inadequacies are not a justification for letting a child molester off the hook.[7]

—Kendall Marlowe, executive director of the National Association for Counsel for Children[6]

The attorney for Richards' ex-wife Tracy in the 2014 lawsuit stated:

This self-confessed, admitted rapist and child abuser didn't go to jail, and, in fact, he stays in luxury where he has always been.[7]

—Thomas C. Crumplar[8]

However, some attorneys agreed with the judge's ruling:

Sex offenders are the lowest of the low in prison. He's a rich, white boy who is a wuss and a child perv. The prison can't protect them, and Jan Jurden knows that reality. She is right on.[7]

—Defense attorney Joseph A. Hurley[6]

See also

External links


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