Kennard, 72, plans to resign effective April 5, giving Gov. Jerry Brown his second opportunity to fill a California Supreme Court vacancy after having appointed Justice Goodwin Liu in 2011.
Brown's selection to replace Kennard will be subject to confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments - a body composed of State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein - and would then go before voters during the following election. The successor would be up for a potential re-election in 2018, at the end of Kennard's current term.
The April 5 resignation date will mark the 25th anniversary of Gov. George Deukmejian originally appointing Kennard, back in 1989. She subsequently won re-election in 1990, 1994 and 2006.
"The state and its people have been very well served by Justice Kennard and her independence and intellectual fortitude have left a lasting mark on the Court," Brown said in a statement.
PHOTO: Associate Justice Joyce Kennard, in 2008. Associated Press/Paul Sakuma