OLYMPIA – Washington state Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander announced Tuesday he will step down next year from his post and serve out the remainder of his term as an associate justice.
Alexander, the state’s longest-serving chief justice, is set to retire at the end of 2011, the year in which he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 for judges in Washington. Alexander will remain a justice on the nine-member high court for the last two years of his term.
“I am immensely proud of our Court, and I feel this is the perfect time to turn this position over to one of my able colleagues,” Alexander said in a written statement.
He added that it would benefit the court and the judicial community “to have a seamless transition for this leadership role.”
The chief justice presides over the court’s public hearings, serves as the administrative head of the state’s judicial branch, and is the court’s main spokesperson.
Alexander said he came to his decision earlier this year and informed his colleagues this month.
Gov. Chris Gregoire congratulated Alexander on his long tenure, saying he “has provided immeasurable leadership, strengthened our state’s trial system and ensured a fair process for those requiring it.”
The new chief justice will be selected by an internal election of the members of the court in early November, will be sworn in January and will fill the remainder of Alexander’s current term.
The other members of the court are: Justices Charles Johnson, Barbara Madsen, Richard Sanders, Tom Chambers, Susan Owens, Mary Fairhurst, James Johnson, and Debra Stephens.
Alexander was elected to the court in 1994 and has served as chief justice since 2001.