ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia Supreme Court has chosen its next chief justice.
The state's high court announced Wednesday that it unanimously elected Justice P. Harris Hines of Marietta to succeed retiring Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson.
Thompson of Milledgeville announced in July that he plans to step down next year after serving on the court since 1994.
Hines will be sworn in as the new chief justice in January. He was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Gov. Zell Miller in 1995. Before that, Hines served as a Cobb County Superior Court judge for 12 years.
Georgia's chief justice presides over oral arguments before the Supreme Court as well as meetings at which justices reach their decisions. The chief justice also serves as the top spokesman for the state's judicial system.