Chief Justice Daniel E. Winfree speaks during a public vote of the Alaska Judicial Council held as part of the selection process for a new Kenai Superior Court Judge on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, at the Kenai Courthouse in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Chief Justice Daniel E. Winfree speaks during a public vote of the Alaska Judicial Council held as part of the selection process for a new Kenai Superior Court Judge on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, at the Kenai Courthouse in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

4 nominated to fill Kenai Superior Court seat

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has 45 days to appoint one of the nominees selected by the council to the position.

The Alaska Judicial Council on Tuesday nominated Katherine Ann Elsner, Kelly J. Lawson, Elizabeth Leduc and William Montgomery for a vacancy on the Kenai Superior Court, following a monthslong evaluation process, a public hearing Monday, and a series of interviews.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has 45 days to appoint one of the nominees selected by the council to the position.

The vacancy was created by the upcoming retirement of Judge Jennifer K. Wells. By an October deadline, 11 applications were received by the council, but two withdrew ahead of the public hearing and interviews held this week.

A public vote was held at 4 p.m. at the Kenai Courthouse, where the six members of the council voted either yes or no to each of the nine candidates.

Elsner, LeDuc and Montgomery were each approved unanimously. Lawson split the council evenly, requiring a tie-breaking vote by Chief Justice Daniel E. Winfree of the Alaska Supreme Court. He cast the deciding “yes.”

According to information included in an October press release from the Alaska Judicial Council, Elsner has practiced law for 14 years and resided in Alaska for nine. Prior to her nomination she has been in private practice in Kenai.

Lawson, a victim rights’ attorney from Anchorage, has practiced law for 19 years and lived in Alaska for more than 45.

Leduc has practiced law for 15 years and lived in Alaska as long. She serves as an assistant public advocate and supervisor of the Kenai Office of Public Advocacy.

Montgomery was the applicant located farthest from Kenai, a district court judge from Bethel. He has lived in Alaska for 11 years and practiced law for 10.

For more information about the Alaska Judicial Council and the process to fill the Kenai Superior Court seat, visit ajc.state.ak.us.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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