2 nominated for Kenai judge seat

The Alaska Judicial Council has nominated a local magistrate judge and a former Kenai District Attorney for a soon-to-be-empty Kenai Superior Court Judge seat.

Judge Carl Bauman announced previously that he does not intend to seek retention this year and will leave his seat in the Kenai Superior Court in February. Kenai Magistrate Judge Jennifer Wells and Assistant Attorney General Lance Joanis, who works in Kenai, were nominated by the council out of six applicants after a round of interviews and public testimony Dec. 3-4. Joanis was Kenai’s district attorney and was replaced by District Attorney Scot Leaders when he took his current job working on Child in Need of Aid cases.

The council, which is made up of three attorneys, three non-attorneys and Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Craig Stowers, will wait until early January to submit the names to Gov. Bill Walker. Stowers, who chairs the council, said after the public testimony that this is to delay the start of Walker’s 45-day window in which to make his final appointment in order to account for his surgery and recovery this month.

When considering applicants for the bench, the council takes into account things like community participation, credit reports and bar discipline, according to a release from the council.

Joanis began practicing in Bethel as an assistant district attorney before working briefly in Anchorage’s district attorney office. He made the move to the attorney general’s office in 2011 after having served as Kenai’s district attorney.

“I think it’s the next step in service to the community,” Joanis said of the superior court position in a previous Clarion interview. “And it seems like an interesting line of work.”

Wells has been a magistrate in Kenai, Anchorage and Tok since 1994. She she has been with the Kenai court since 2007, and also lived in Kenai in the 1990s while practicing as a lawyer. Wells previously told the Clarion she would like to be able to apply some of her earlier experience from Anchorage working with family and domestic violence law, should she be appointed to the judge seat.

“I’ve done so much work in family law and civil law that I would really like to expand on that,” she said in a previous interview.

Wells was also involved in the formation of the peninsula’s recently-launched joint therapeutic court between the Alaska Court System and the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, having served on the task force that worked on making the court a reality.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Mount Redoubt can be seen acoss Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Offshore oil plan envisions a single Cook Inlet sale

The proposed 2023-2028 plan is similar to the just-ended Obama administration five-year plan

People line the streets in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022 for the annual Independence Day parade. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Red, white and blue all day

Kenai turns out for parade, activities to celebrate Independence Day

A podium marks the beginning of a StoryWalk at Soldotna Creek Park on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
StoryWalk is back after vandalism

The installation was discontinued last September after someone damaged the poles and podium plexiglass

Shawn Dick of Talkneetna carries a fresh catch out of the water while dipnetting on the Kenai Beach on July 10, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Kenai River dipnetting opens this month

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens July 10

The sun is seen shining above the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 14, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clario file)
When the temperature hits 70, Alaskans feel the heat — and start suffering health ills

Acclimatization, the angle of the sun at high latitudes and other factors make summer heat more intense in Alaska

A map shows active fires around the state of Alaska on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Screenshot from Alaska Wildland Fire Information Map)
Fire danger prompts restrictions on burning, fireworks

There were 160 fires in Alaska as of Thursday, and of those 17 were staffed with fire personnel

Jessica Cook, left, and Les Gara are photographed in The Peninsula Clarion’s offices Thursday in Kenai. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Gara, Cook campaign on the Kenai Peninsula

The pair cited education funding, reproductive rights and election security as priorities

A map shows the Seward Highway MP 17-22.5 Rehabilitation Project area. The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 — from about Primrose Campground to near Teddy’s Inn The Woods — will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18, 2022. (Screenshot)
Roadwork in Moose Pass to shut parts of Seward Highway

The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18

Most Read