Karen Williams

William Wilkins William W Wilkins Jr Billy Wilkins.JPGLast week was a busy one in legal news, so we apologize for our tardiness in bringing you this news. As first reported at the South Carolina Appellate Law Blog, and later picked up by The State, Chief Judge William Wilkins is retiring as chief judge of the Fourth Circuit.

William “Billy” Wilkins of Greenville is stepping down as chief judge of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a position he has held since 2003….

Wilkins, 64, in a prepared statement Thursday afternoon said he had notified President Bush of his decision to step down effective July 1, 2007.

“It’s time to move on,” he said.

The obvious questions. First, who will replace him as Chief Judge?

Under federal seniority rules, his successor would be Karen Williams of Orangeburg, who would become the first woman to hold that position in the circuit. Williams, 55, is the next senior judge younger than 65.

Karen Williams Karen J Williams Above the Law.jpgJudge Williams, you may recall, is a judicial hottie, described by the New York Times as “a tall, slender woman with delicate features and a regal carriage.” Rumored to have both a private plane and a personal shopper, the stylish Judge Williams is known around her hometown of Orangeburg as “Miss Karen.”
(Yes, she’s married. But as a fellow South Carolina native explains, “the first thing one must learn about Orangeburg is that every woman is referred to as Miss,” regardless of her marital status.)
And who might be nominated to the Fourth Circuit to fill the new vacancy on the court? Some speculation appears after the jump.

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