The Colorado Supreme Court's associate justices voted Justice Nathan B. Coats to head the court beginning June 30, 2018.

According to a Thursday press release from the Colorado Judicial Department, the selection was made after former Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice announced her retirement in March of this year. Her last day will be June 30.

Rice served 31 years as a judge, including almost 20 years on the state's Supreme Court and 4 1/2 years as chief justice, the release said.

The nominating commission to replace Rice will meet on May 14 and May 15 to interview candidates to replace her as the seventh member of the court. The commission will send three names to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will have 15 days to pick someone to be on the court.

Coats, Rice's replacement as chief justice, was appointed to the state's highest court in April of 2000 by Republican Gov. Bill Owens.

He went to undergrad at CU and graduated with a degree in economics in 1971, the release said. He got his juris doctor degree from the University of Colorado Law School six years after that.

Coats is the 46th person to be named the Supreme Court's chief justice since Colorado became a state in 1876.

The state's chief justice can be thought of as the head of the state's judicial branch and appoints the chief judge of the Court of Appeals and the chief judge of Colorado's 22 judicial districts. He also administers the budget of the judicial branch.

The Colorado Supreme Court is composed of one chief justice and six associate justices who each serve 10 years. Coats will be the new chief justice. The associate justices are Monica M. Marquez, Brian D. Boatright, William W. Hood, Richard L. Gabriel and Melissa Hart. The seventh member will be appointed by the governor in late May or early June.