Applications open for seat on Kenai Superior Court

The body responsible for nominating Alaska judges is taking applications from potential replacements for retiring Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles T. Huguelet.

The Alaska Judicial Council will accept applications for judgeships on the Kenai, Juneau, Utqiagvik and Bethel Superior Courts and for the Alaska Court of Appeals until July 27.

Made up of three attorneys, three public members and the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court, the council will narrow the field of judicial applicants to at least two after an investigation into candidates’ personal and professional lives — including a look at any criminal history, credit records, litigation involving the applicant and bar and judicial disciplinary records.

The council sends out requests for detailed information on the applicants’ recent legal cases, checks references and contacts former employers. An Alaska Bar Association survey provides members of the legal community to give their input on the applicants’ legal skills and integrity.

Judgeship applicants must be U.S. citizens who have lived in and practiced law in Alaska for at least the last five years. Those seeking a position on the courts must fill out a comprehensive questionnaire detailing their personal and professional history, and must submit legal writing samples.

The Judicial Council will hold public hearings in November to get community input on the candidates before taking a final vote.

Huguelet’s is the second Superior Court seat slated to change hands this year. In May, the Judicial Council nominated Kenai Assistant Attorney General Lance Joanis and Valdez District Court Judge Daniel Schally to fill retiring Superior Court Judge Anna M. Moran’s seat.

The two were chosen from a field of candidates that included Kenai Magistrate Judge Martin C. Fallon, Kenai District Attorney Scot H. Leaders and Assistant Public Defender William W. Taylor.

Gov. Bill Walker, who has 45 days from the May 16 decision to choose which of the two candidates will hold the seat, has interviewed the applicants and is still in consultation, Walker’s deputy press secretary Berett Wilber said. Walker plans to appoint someone by the July 4 deadline, he said.

Huguelet, who was appointed in 2003, is up for retention in 2018.

Because he’s retiring, he doesn’t have to file retention paperwork and won’t appear on the ballot in November. When a judge doesn’t stand for retention, his or her term ends 90 days after the date of the election, Susanne DiPietro, executive director of the Alaska Judicial Council, said.

Reach Erin Thompson at ethompson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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