Dunleavy keeps open court seat, questions nomination process

Dunleavy keeps open court seat, questions nomination process

The council advanced three names for two open seats on the Palmer Superior Court

  • By BECKY BOHRER Associated Press
  • Thursday, March 21, 2019 10:59pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Gov. Mike Dunleavy has declined — for now — to fill a seat on the Palmer Superior Court, citing questions with the process used in sending nominees to him for consideration.

Dunleavy sent a letter to the Alaska Judicial Council saying he believed there were qualified candidates that the council “inexplicably” did not nominate. The council advanced three names for two open seats on the Palmer Superior Court.

Dunleavy appointed to one of the seats John Cagle, an assistant district attorney in Anchorage who was on the list. He left the other spot vacant. “I will not be selecting a second candidate from this truncated list,” the governor wrote.

The judicial council’s website shows there were 13 applicants for the two seats. Two of the applicants withdrew, and a third was appointed to another judgeship, the site shows. Under the Constitution, when there is a superior court vacancy, the council is to nominate at least two candidates for the governor to choose from. The council says on its website that it is to advance the most qualified.

The Alaska Supreme Court has held that the council is within its right to send to the governor one more nominee than the number of positions to be filled. In this case, there would have been three candidates to choose from for one of the Palmer seats and two for the remaining seat.

Dunleavy’s letter states that the council declined to nominate for the Palmer Superior Court a candidate it had previously nominated for the Anchorage Superior Court and the Anchorage District Court.

The letter states that Dunleavy’s office had requested more information from the council on candidates not recommended, including the council’s reasoning. “Thus far you have declined to provide me more information,” he wrote.

Dunleavy wrote he wants to review the council’s reasoning to determine if additional qualified candidates could be nominated for the still-open position.

Susanne DiPietro, the council’s executive director, said she provided additional information but was not asked about the council’s reasoning.

Following up on Dunleavy’s letter Thursday, she said she checked with the administration to see if she had missed something. She said she was told there was a clerical error resulting in a letter from Dunleavy’s chief of staff seeking the council’s reasoning, dated Monday, not being sent. She ultimately received that Thursday afternoon.

DiPietro said now that she has that request she would share it with the council.

• By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press

More in News

A firefighter from Cooper Landing Emergency Services refills a water tanker at the banks of the Kenai River in Cooper Landing, Alaska on Aug. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Cooper Landing voters to consider emergency service area for region

The community is currently served by Cooper Landing Emergency Services

Hundreds gather for the first week of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna music series kicks off with crowds, colors and sunshine

A color run took off ahead of performances by Blackwater Railroad Company and BenJammin The Jammin Band

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Finance Director Liz Hayes, left, testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly during a budget work session on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly passes borough budget

The document fully funds borough schools and includes a decrease in property taxes

The George A. Navarre Kenai Peninsula Borough building. (Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Assembly shrinks borough planning commission

The planning commission is responsible for planning the “systemic development and betterment” of the borough

The Sterling Highway crosses the Kenai River near the Russian River Campground on March 15, 2020, near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Russian River Campground reopens for 2 summer months

Reservations for campsites can be made online

Kristin Lambert testifies in support of funding for the Soldotna Senior Center during an assembly meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
After leadership change, borough funds Soldotna senior center

The Soldotna City Council in May voted to defund the center for the upcoming fiscal year

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
5 vying for Seward city manager gig

The Seward City Council will convene for a special city council meeting on June 12 to review candidates’ applications

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna resident found dead in home

He was found Monday morning

Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney speaks during the 100% Alaska Community Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
100% Alaska survey results, state of services discussed at town hall

Change 4 the Kenai leads conversation about access to mental health, housing, transportation

Most Read