Leah Ward Sears

ATLANTA (Legal Newsline) -- Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice
Leah Ward Sears announced Wednesday that she is leaving the court in June 2009.

Her six-year term on the high court is up in December 2010.

"My service on the Court has been the most challenging and rewarding
time of my life," Sears said. "But I believe that if we stop challenging ourselves, life can become a rut."

Sears, 52, was the youngest person to serve on the court when she was
appointed by then Gov. Zell Miller in 1992. She became chief
justice in 2005, making her the first African-American female chief
justice in the country.

In her statement, she said she intends to start a new chapter in her
life and has no plans to retire.

"My husband, Haskell, and I have watched our children grow up, I
suffered the loss of my older brother, who died at the same age I am
now, and professionally I achieved one of my lifelong dreams. I have
come to realize that life has different seasons, and it is limited. It
is now time for me to face new challenges and set new goals," Sears

During her 16 years on the court, it became one of the most productive
in the nation, according to a recent study by The University of
Chicago Law School.

Sears has developed a national reputation for children and family advocacy, most notably in speaking out in favor of marriage as the most "pro-child" institution the nation has.

"I believe we all have a purpose in our lives, and mine is to serve,"
Sears said. "Achieving justice, equality and hope for our nation, our
communities, our families - that's what I was put here to do. And
whatever I do next, I will not waver from that course."

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