Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Rejected A Deal That Would Have Made Her Chief In 2017 | Lousiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson made her first public comments concerning the controversy over who will become the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Johnson told a panel of state lawmakers that she rejected a deal that would have made her chief after 2017. “Of course, I could not agree to that,” she said. The Louisiana state constitution mandates that the Justice with the longest tenure on the court automatically becomes chief justice. The controversy arises from the fact that while Johnson joined the Supreme Court as the eight justice in 1994 as part of a civil rights settlement with the Department of Justice, from then until 2000 she was technically a member of the state’s appellate court because the state constitution limits the number of supreme court justices to seven.