PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — One of Rhode Island’s five state Supreme Court justices is stepping down, opening up a seat on the high court for the first time in a decade.

Justice Gilbert Indeglia, 78, sent a letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo that was hand-delivered on Wednesday, informing her he plans to retire effective June 30, court spokesperson Craig Berke confirmed Friday night.

“These 31 years have been beyond anyone’s dreams, and I have truly enjoyed every day of them,” Indeglia wrote in the letter, first reported by The Providence Journal. “I hope that I have met the expectations of those who appointed me as well as the citizens of Rhode Island.”

Raimondo praised the outgoing jurist.

“Throughout his career, Justice Indeglia has shown himself to be a thoughtful advocate for the people of Rhode Island,” she said in a statement. “I’m grateful for his decades of public service and wish him all the best in his retirement.”

A South Kingstown resident, Indeglia was born in Providence and graduated from Classical High School before attending Boston College and the University of Michigan Law School. He served on the South Kingstown Town Council and in the R.I. House of Representatives before becoming a District Court judge in 1989.

Gov. Lincoln Almond appointed Indeglia to Superior Court in 2000, and Gov. Donald Carcieri named him to the Supreme Court in 2010.

“Justice Indeglia has been a steady, dedicated, and talented jurist making difficult decisions with smarts and humility for 30 years at all levels of the R.I. judiciary,” Roger Williams University School of Law Dean Michael Yelnosky tweeted. “We owe him our gratitude and best wishes for a long and happy retirement.”

Raimondo will be the first Democratic governor to appoint a Supreme Court justice in many years. All five current justices were appointed by Republicans: four by Carcieri and one by Almond. The youngest current justice is Maureen McKenna Goldberg, who turns 69 next month, while the others are all in their 70s.

John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Indeglia’s potential successors will submit their names to the Judicial Nominating Commission for review.

Once Raimondo chooses a nominee from the commission’s list of finalists, that person will be subject to confirmation by both the Senate and the House, Marion said. (Usually judges only need Senate confirmation.)

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook