(CN) - Judge Sidney Thomas will take over as chief of the 9th Circuit on Dec. 1, Montana news sources are reporting.
Thomas will become the 11th chief judge of the nation's largest appellate court, and the third resident of Montana to hold the job, the Billings Gazette and the Helena Independent Record said Tuesday.
The current chief judge, Alex Kozinski, has held the position for seven years. Court rules now require Kozinski to pass the job on to the next most senior judge who is younger than 65 and has not served previously as chief judge.
Appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the 61-year-old Thomas, who resides in Billings, is the 20th in seniority of the circuit's 45 judges.
"It's humbling, but I hope I can bring Montana values of common sense and collegiality to the task," Thomas told the Billings Gazette. "I hope I can bring some credit to Montana."
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