By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN / Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A Louisiana Supreme Court justice is suing to block her colleagues from debating and voting on whether she is legally entitled to become the court's next chief justice.
A federal suit filed Thursday on behalf of Justice Bernette Johnson says she is next in line for the job because she qualifies as the court's longest-serving justice.
But Justice Jeffrey Victory also has staked a claim to succeeding Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball, who retires next year.
The debate hinges on whether Johnson's first few years on the court count toward her seniority. Johnson technically filled a seat on a state appeals court when voters elected her in 1994, but she was assigned to serve on the Supreme Court on a full-time basis under the terms of a federal consent decree.