Carley was not going to seek re-election this year because of a state law that says appellate judges cannot collect their pensions if they stay on the bench after they turn 75. He will turn 74 in September.
When he decided last year to step down in July and not serve out his full term, Carley surprised a number of lawyers who were planning to or considering whether to run for what they thought would be an open seat. Instead, Gov. Nathan Deal will soon name Carley's successor, who will have to run for election in 2014. On Friday, Deal's Judicial Nominating Commission said 31 judges and lawyers had applied to take Carley's place on the Supreme Court.
After being sworn in Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, Carley thanked Hunstein for giving him the opportunity to serve as chief justice.
"It is only through her graciousness this has happened," Carley said, looking over at Hunstein seated next to him. "This was all her idea. ... I will forever be grateful for that."
By letting Carley serve as chief justice, his fellow justices allowed him to become the first in Georgia history to serve as chief justice and presiding justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, as well as chief judge and presiding judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals.
At Carley’s investiture, all six living former chief justices were in attendance: Hunstein, Robert Benham, Harold Clarke, Norman Fletcher, Willis Hunt and Leah Ward Sears.