What others say: Judicial selection for Alaska

  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 7:12pm
  • Opinion

Alaskans should participate in the judicial selection process.

Not enough do.

That is a concern.

The process is largely conducted by the Alaska Judicial Council, which consists of three non-attorney Alaskans and three Alaska attorneys. The state Supreme Court’s chief justice participates as chair, and votes rarely, only to break a tie.

House Bill 33 seeks to change the makeup of the Council, largely for two reasons: Worries about attorney dominance on the Council, and public confusion about Council work.

Confusion could be addressed if the public participated more in the process than it currently does. The Council holds public comment periods for each judicial vacancy. The public can comment at the Council meeting in the community with the vacancy or in writing; little of either is provided to the Council, especially when considering the number of Alaskans.

The Council, as a public entity, also is available to answer questions concerning its processes.

Concerning worries about attorneys dominating the Council, that insinuates that the non-attorney members are being intimidated against voting for the best candidates. That’s simply untrue.

In most cases, it’s a mix of attorney and non-attorney votes that narrow the list of applicants for a judicial vacancy to the most qualified. That list is forwarded to the governor for the final selection.

To add additional non-attorney seats to the Council would politicize the Council, unbalancing the makeup and the power, which isn’t an environment suitable to selecting the most qualified judges. The constitution’s authors did as much as possible to eliminate politics from the process.

The Council works well as it is. It’s balanced, and the public has every opportunity to participate.

Alaskans simply should do that; that’s how we can influence the Council toward the most qualified judicial candidates.

Work with the Council; leave its makeup alone.

 

Ketchikan Daily News

March 10

More in Opinion

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Capitol
Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

tt
Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

1
Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Sullivan’s irrelevance in defense of democracy

Two years ago this week, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol…