CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – All five New Hampshire state Supreme Court justices have disqualified themselves from hearing a case about who should be the next chief justice of the court.

The court on Tuesday assigned retired Justice William Johnson to hear the case filed by Gov. Craig Benson and the Executive Council.

Chief Justice David Brock is retiring Wednesday.

The governor and council want clarification on who should appoint the next chief justice. A recent state law says the position goes to the longest serving justice – in this case, John Broderick – but traditionally, the governor and council have appointed the chief.

Benson has said he is not necessarily opposed to Broderick, but would like flexibility. He has said he hopes to nominate a chief justice by Jan. 7, a week after Brock’s retirement.

Because all of the current justices have a stake in the decision, they disqualified themselves.

Four retired or soon-to-retire Superior Court justices will hear the case with Johnson.

AP-ES-12-30-03 1728EST

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