ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia judge known for civil rights strides and presiding over high-profile cases is retiring after 40 years on the bench.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger announced Thursday that he won't run for reelection. His term ends next year.

Seeliger's judicial career began in the 1980s when he defeated Judge J. Oscar Mitchell, who briefly sent Martin Luther King Jr. to prison in 1960 for violating parole on a traffic offense; King had used an Alabama license to drive in Georgia.

Seeliger later hired the first black bailiff in DeKalb State Court. He also removed a Confederate flag from his courtroom and blocked Georgia from creating a controversial highway through Atlanta.

Seeliger said in a statement he's grateful to have served.

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