Originally created 03/03/05

Across Georgia

Supreme Court will get 1st female chief

ATLANTA - Judge Leah Sears, who survived a bid by conservative groups last year to dump her from the bench, has been elected chief justice of the state Supreme Court, the first woman to hold that position.

She will take the reins of the state's highest appeals court July 1 from Norman Fletcher, who is retiring. Judge Sears has served on the court since 1992, when she was appointed by Democrat Zell Miller.

Judge Sears' re-election bid last year was contested by many of the state's top Republicans and religious conservatives.

Faulty planning cited in deaths of students

ATLANTA - Inadequate planning played a role in a school boating trip that left two 14-year-old Georgia boys dead, Florida rescue officials said.

The bodies of Sean Wilkinson, of Acworth, and Clay McKemie, of Rome, were found Monday floating in the Gulf of Mexico after they were separated from the rest of the group from the Darlington School.

Officials cited factors such as a shortage of safety equipment and the lack of a way to communicate between boats. The deaths are being considered accidents.

Rights group urges help for King Center

ATLANTA - The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is encouraging civil rights activists to support the King Center, which is in need of costly repairs and is facing scrutiny of its finances. But the group did not specify how activists should show their support.

A report by the National Park Service found that the King Center needs $11.6 million in repairs. Leakage has even been found at the base of the reflecting pool that surrounds the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s tomb.

Deaths in Iraq push division's toll to 13

FORT STEWART - The deaths of three Fort Stewart soldiers in Iraq raises to 13 the death toll of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division since it deployed for a second tour of duty in January.

The Pentagon identified the latest casualties Tuesday.

Army Pfc. Min S. Choi, 21, of River Vale, N.J., and Pvt. Landon S. Giles, 19, of Indiana, Pa., died Saturday in Abertha, Iraq, when an explosive detonated near their patrol. Army Spc. Michael S. Deem, 35, of Rockledge, Fla., died Thursday in Baghdad from injuries not related to combat


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