Federal Judge Rules In La. Chief Justice Spat

By: AP
By: AP

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge has sided with Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson in her legal effort to become the state's first black chief justice.

U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ruled Saturday that Johnson had the seniority to succeed Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball when she retires early next year.

Johnson had sued to block her colleagues from deciding the matter.

When voters elected her in 1994, Johnson at first filled an appeal court seat but was assigned to serve on the Supreme Court full-time under terms of a civil rights lawsuit settlement. Some argued that Justice Jeffery Victory, who has served since 1995, has served longer than Johnson. They wanted the Louisiana Supreme Court to settle the question.

Johnson's attorney James Williams' praised Morgan for issuing "the right ruling"

Lawyers for the state didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

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