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Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 7:33am

Top Justice Will Step Down

Presiding Justice George Carley will leave the Georgia Supreme Court in July 2012, handing Gov. Nathan Deal a chance to name a replacement to the state's highest court.

The 73-year-old Carley said Tuesday he will step down July 17, after all cases from the court's January term have been decided.

Whoever Deal appoints must run for election in 2014. Carley said he was announcing his intentions early so potential candidates could make plans.

When he steps down, Carley will leave the high court as chief justice. The court voted unanimously last month to have him serve as the leader of Georgia's judicial system for two months before he leaves. Carley has been a judge for 32 years. He'd announced previously he would not seek re-election.