The Oklahoma Supreme Court's vice chief justice will move up to chief justice next year. He will be the first black person to serve as presiding officer of the state's highest court.
Justices voted Thursday to elect Vice Chief Justice Tom Colbert as the high court's chief justice.
His two-year term begins Jan. 1.
Justice John Reif was elected vice chief justice.
Colbert, 62, will succeed Chief Justice Steven Taylor, 63, who served the past two years as chief justice.
Justices vote on selecting a chief justice every two years on the Thursday after each November general election. The chief justice is the key administrator of the court's many functions.
Named to court in '04
Colbert was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2004 by then-Gov. Brad Henry. He was the first black person named to the high court.
Reif, 61, was appointed to the high court in 2007 by Henry.
Colbert was appointed in 2000 by then-Gov. Frank Keating to serve as a judge on the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
He served on the appellate court until Henry named him to the Supreme Court.
Colbert was born in Oklahoma City and graduated from Sapulpa High School. He attended Eastern Oklahoma State College and earned his bachelor of science degree from Kentucky State University in 1973.
After serving in the Army, he earned a master's of education degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1976 and taught in Chicago's public schools.
He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 1982, and served as assistant Dean at Marquette University Law School from 1982 until 1984.
He then served as an assistant Oklahoma County district attorney from 1984 until 1986. He maintained a private law practice in Oklahoma City from 1986 until 2000.
Formal swearing-in ceremonies for Tom Colbert and John Reif are set for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.