- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The chief judge of the South Carolina Court of Appeals is the newest justice on the state Supreme Court.

In a joint session, legislators elected Judge John Few on Wednesday to fill the vacancy left by December’s retirement of Chief Justice Jean Toal.

“It’s a big moment,” Few, of Greenville, said after the vote, adding he felt “relief, excitement. I understand the responsibility that comes with winning the seat.”

It’s Few’s third attempt at a seat on the high court. First elected as a Circuit Court judge in 2000, Few has been chief judge of the Court of Appeals since 2010.

The 52-year-old Greenville resident received 92 votes to appeals court Judge Bruce Williams’ 73 votes. Williams, 59, of Columbia, declined to comment after the vote.

Toal, who sat beside Few in the House gallery during the voting, praised Few as highly qualified.

“He will be a wonderful addition to the Supreme Court,” she said.

Few is a graduate of Duke University and the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he teaches. From 2008 to 2012, he taught at the Charleston School of Law.

The election became a two-way race after the chief judge of the Administrative Law Court dropped out within an hour of the voting. Judge Ralph “Tripp” Anderson III, 56, also of Columbia, said he will run again for a Supreme Court seat.

He’ll get another chance soon.

Toal’s retirement was mandatory under state law because she turned 72 last year.

Costa Pleicones (Pluh-KOH-Nus) was sworn in last month as chief justice, becoming the high court’s first new leader since 2000. But Pleicones turns 72 later this month, so he can spend only a year as South Carolina’s top judge.

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