BATON ROUGE, La. (Legal Newsline) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled Justice Bernette Johnson has more seniority than a colleague and should be the next chief justice.
The opinion, released Tuesday, said there is no difference between elected and appointed service, giving Johnson the edge over Justice Jeffrey Victory. The two were hoping to replace Chief Justice Kitty Kimball.
Johnson was appointed to the court on Oct. 31, 1994, and was elected in 2000, and Victory took office on Jan. 1, 1995. The two recused themselves from the case.
"Now that this court is faced with the question of which of two justices, who have long served on this court, should become its next chief justice, the Louisiana
Constitution compels that Justice Johnson's chronologically longer service be given effect," the court's opinion states.
The Times-Picayune reported that Gov. Bobby Jindal will drop his appeal of a federal court decision that came to the same conclusion. Jindal, a Republican, said Victory should be chief justice.
Former Louisiana Attorney General Richard P. Ieyoub argued in support of Johnson. Ieyoub - who currently practices with Baton Rouge firm Hymel, Davis and Peterson - served as the state's top lawyer from 1992-2004.
Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll also recused herself from the case. Replacing the three were three chief judges on courts of appeal - Burrell Carter of the First Circuit, Henry Brown of the Second Circuit and Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux of the Third Circuit.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien at email@example.com.