- Associated Press - Monday, October 2, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The longest-serving justice currently on the Wyoming Supreme Court plans to retire as he reaches the state’s mandatory retirement age for judges next year.

William Hill’s last day on the bench will be Feb. 16, his 70th birthday, he announced Monday.

Republican Gov. Jim Geringer appointed Hill to the Wyoming Supreme Court in 1998. By now, Hill has served longer than any other current justice by seven years. His departure gives Gov. Matt Mead the chance to appoint a fourth justice to the five-judge panel.

Hill told The Associated Press he’s mulling over his plans for retirement but hasn’t decided what he will do after 19 years on the state’s highest court.

“It has been an extraordinary, never to be forgotten, experience and an honor and privilege,” Hill wrote in his resignation letter to Chief Justice James Burke.

Hill served as chief justice from 2002-2006. Cases decided then included a landmark ruling that helped to establish Wyoming’s modern K-12 education funding system.

Before serving on the Supreme Court, Hill was Wyoming attorney general, an assistant U.S. attorney and an attorney in private practice. He was chief of staff for Wyoming Sen. Malcolm Wallop.

Hill’s wife, Mary Kay Hill, is Gov. Matt Mead’s policy director. Mead previously appointed justices Michael Davis, Kate Fox and Keith Kautz.

“Justice Hill has served Wyoming with great distinction. He is widely known as a legal scholar and a fair but firm decision maker,” Mead said in a statement.

The state judicial nominating commission is taking applications for the job through Oct. 30. Qualified applicants must be learned in the law, at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen, a Wyoming resident at least three years and have been practicing in the law and/or as a judge at least nine years.

Mead will select the next justice from three finalists chosen by the commission.

Federal judges, including U.S. Supreme Court justices, don’t have mandatory retirement ages but many states require their judges to step aside between 70 and 75.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

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