Justice Department Sides With Judge Seeking to Lead LA High Court


The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with Bernette J. Johnson in her legal battle to be the next chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, says the Baton Rouge Advocate. Johnson, who would become the first African-American chief justice in Louisiana, is suing to assert her status as the longest-serving member of the state Supreme Court and, thus, the next in line when Chief Justice Catherine “Kitty” Kimball retires next year.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, filed a memo last week in federal court siding with Johnson over the argument by Justice Jeffrey P. Victory that he may be the longest-tenured justice. The debate is whether Johnson's first six years from 1994 to 2000 on the Louisiana court should count toward her tenure when she was assigned to the court as an appellate judge because of the federal civil-rights ruling.

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