University of Denver

Louisiana: Two Justices Claiming Seniority for Chief Justice Position (Updated)

Former Senior Director

Two supreme court justices are disputing which of them has seniority and should replace Chief Justice Kitty Kimball when she steps down next year. Justice Bernette Johnson was serving on an intermediate appellate court in 1994 when she was appointed to the supreme court as part of a federal consent decree, and she was elected in 2000. Justice Jeffrey Victory joined the court in 1995. A hearing has been scheduled to address the seniority issue, but Johnson has sued to block it, arguing that the court has no authority to select a chief justice. Several black elected officials have asked the Justice Department’s civil rights division to intervene in the case. In testimony before the senate judiciary committee, Johnson reported that she rejected a compromise to become chief justice in 2017. If Johnson prevails, she would be the court’s first black chief justice.