La. high court's 1st black chief justice sworn in

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Associated Press

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 1 at 3:06 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Bernette Johnson has been sworn in as the first black chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, less than four months after her colleagues resolved a dispute over whether she was entitled to the position.

Johnson took her oath of office during a brief ceremony Friday, a day after her predecessor, Catherine "Kitty" Kimball, formally retired. A public ceremony marking her investiture is scheduled for Feb. 28.

Johnson sued in July after her colleagues said they would debate whether she or Justice Jeffrey Victory, who is white, had the seniority that entitled them to succeed Kimball.

The state's highest court ended the racially tinged power struggle in October, ruling that Johnson's years of appointed service count when deciding which justice is "oldest in point of service" under the state constitution.

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