Gavel (Courtesy photo)

Gavel (Courtesy photo)

Alaska Voices: Vote to retain Justice Susan Carney

Justice Carney has devoted her entire career to public service.

  • Monday, October 19, 2020 5:32pm
  • Opinion

Justice Susan Carney is a strong advocate for youth and families, and for fairness, and she deserves a “yes” vote for retention on the November ballot.

You should know a little about her as you cast your ballot on her judicial retention. Justice Carney grew up in a working-class family in Massachusetts. She relied on work and earned scholarships to put herself through college and law school, where she found time to volunteer at a homeless shelter, before moving to Alaska in 1987. She has been married for nearly 30 years and she and her husband Pete are proud parents of two wonderful adopted children.

Justice Carney has devoted her entire career to public service. After law school, she clerked for the Alaska Supreme Court, after which she began her lengthy career at the Public Defender Agency and then the Office of Public Advocacy. She served in a variety of roles, including as a guardian ad litem for children and youth and as an attorney for parents involved in child protection cases. Many of her clients lived in rural areas of the state, giving her insight into issues important to the Alaska Native community. Justice Carney’s extensive knowledge and experience with the child protection system from all perspectives is unique on the Supreme Court and serves the Court well.

Community involvement has continued to be an important part of Justice Carney’s life since her appointment to the Supreme Court. Near and dear to our hearts, Justice Carney has shown a particular interest in Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA), the nonprofit organization made up of current and former foster youth who advocate for improving the foster care system and provide education to judges and other professionals involved in the child welfare system. She has taken every opportunity to engage with and listen to stories from current and former foster youth from FFCA. Last fall a group of foster youth shared their lived-experiences about life in foster care on a panel for legal professionals. After hearing one young woman’s experience and goal of becoming an attorney, Justice Carney took her to lunch for an opportunity to get to know her and encourage her to continue to pursue her dreams of becoming an attorney and advocating for racial equity. That young person is now studying for the LSAT.

We have worked with Justice Carney and a group of professionals on the Alaska Supreme Court Child in Need of Aid (CINA) Rules Committee that she chairs, focusing on efforts to strengthen the voices of children and youth in their own CINA cases. Her devotion to children and families is obvious.

Those who know Justice Carney well know that she is intelligent, thoughtful, selfless and compassionate. She knows from her life that courts are not just for the wealthy, and that all deserve fairness regardless of their privilege or wealth. She’s known as an exceptional, fair justice who checks her personal and religious views at the courthouse door.

The Alaska Judicial Council, a nonpartisan citizen run organization that meticulously evaluates all Alaska judges and their performance, has unanimously recommended that Justice Carney be retained in this year’s election. Please join us in voting “yes” for Justice Carney.

Amanda Metivier is a co-founder and director of FFCA. She is a former foster youth and has been a foster parent for over a decade. She has been leading child welfare reform efforts in Alaska for 17 years.

Barb Malchick is on the board of directors of FFCA and is a former guardian ad litem and supervising attorney at the Office of Public Advocacy. She first met Justice Carney when they played on the same basketball team in 1988, and they were colleagues in sister offices of OPA for many years.

•By Amanda Metivier and Barb Malchick

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