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      SC lawmakers meet to select state's chief justice

      <font size="2">South Carolina legislators are deciding who will lead the state's top court.</font>

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina legislators are deciding who will lead the state's top court.

      State lawmakers meet in a joint session Wednesday to decide if Chief Justice Jean Toal or Associate Justice Costa Pleicones will lead the South Carolina Supreme Court.

      Pleicones surprised the state's legal community last year when he said he would challenge Toal in her pursuit of a new term. The two have served alongside each other since 2000, when Toal became chief justice after 12 years on the court.

      Pleicones -- then a circuit court judge -- was elected to serve out her unexpired term.

      Whoever is elected, his or her time as chief will be limited by South Carolina's mandatory judicial retirement age of 72. Toal is 70. Pleicones is 69.