Justice Bernette Johnson

Louisiana's Supreme Court ruled today that Justice Bernette Johnson has the seniority that entitles her to become the panel's chief justice at the end of January, NPR's Debbie Elliott tells our Newscast Desk.

Johnson will be the first African-American to sit in the chief justice's seat. The state's first Supreme Court was created in 1812.

Lawyers for Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson are seeking more than $380,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses for work on her lawsuit over her bid to become the court's first black chief justice.

In a court filing Wednesday, Johnson's attorneys argue the amount they are seeking from the state of Louisiana is reasonable. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan didn't immediately rule on the request.

A lawyer for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says a federal judge created confusion when she ruled in favor of state Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson's bid to become the court's next chief justice.

Kevin Tully, one of the state's attorneys, said in a statement Saturday that it's unclear whether U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan believes a 20-year-old federal court settlement prohibits the state's highest court from "carrying out its constitutional duties" and naming its next chief justice.

The State of Louisiana is appealing a judge's ruling that Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson has the seniority that entitles her to become the court's next chief justice.

Friday's court filing by a lawyer representing Gov. Bobby Jindal's office asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan's ruling. Morgan sided with Johnson's bid to become the state's first black chief justice and succeed Justice Catherine Kimball when she retires in 2013.

Johnson had sued to block her colleagues from deciding the matter.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has gotten involved in the federal court case over who will be the next chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

A motion by Jindal's executive counsel says the governor believes it is an issue for the state to decide. He is entering the case to avoid ambiguity over whether that is the state's position.

Meanwhile, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a brief supporting Justice Bernette Johnson.

Three federal judges in New Orleans have recused themselves from presiding over Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson's lawsuit seeking to block her colleagues from debating and voting on whether she is legally entitled to be the court's next chief justice.

The case was transferred Friday to U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan after three other judges — Jay Zainey, Ivan Lemelle and Carl Barbier — disqualified themselves. It wasn't immediately clear if Morgan will keep the case.

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.