Retirement clears way for Tennessee's first female chief justice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee Chief Justice William M. Barker's retirement clears the way for Justice Janice M. Holder of Memphis to become the state's first female chief justice.

Justice Gary R. Wade told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the justices already chose Holder as Barker's successor when he announced he planned to retire this year. Wade said Barker, who lives at Signal Mountain, informed them two years ago.

The vacancy created by Barker's retirement Sept. 1 from the five-member court will be filled by a successor from East Tennessee or West Tennessee.

The appointment will be Gov. Phil Bredesen's fourth to the high court and leaves Holder as the lone appointee of former Gov. Don Sundquist.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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