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Fifteen Orleans officials side with Johnson in Supreme Court spat

Fifteen New Orleans-area elected officials have told Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Katherine Kimball that she should take steps to ensure that Justice Bernette Johnson succeeds her as the court's chief.

Kimball retires next year. Louisiana's Constitution says the longest serving justice must succeed her. Johnson and Justice Jeffrey Victory each stake claims to being the longest serving.

When voters elected her in 1994, Johnson, who is black, technically filled an appeal court seat but was assigned to serve on the Supreme Court full-time under the settlement of a voting rights lawsuit. Victory, who is white, was elected in 1995.

Kimball told fellow justices last month to file briefs on the matter. Johnson's supporters said Wednesday that Kimball should end the dispute and allow Johnson to succeed her.

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