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

File
Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

File
Opinion: Confusion over ranked choice voting persists

Voter confusion over ballot procedures will continue

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Voices of the Peninsula: A vote for Walker/Drygas is a vote for Alaskans

It’s easy to forget some of the many lost lawsuits, devastating budget cuts and general incompetence that defines Mike Dunleavy’s term as governor

This photo shows a return envelop for 2022 special primary. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Voices of the Peninsula: Learn how to access your ballot

The recent special primary election was the first time the state conducted an all mail-in ballot election

The Storyknife Writers Retreat in the summer of 2021 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Storyknife: Invest in women writers, read the rewards

Storyknife is committed to providing opportunities to a diversity of writers

Residents line the Sterling Highway in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office to oppose Pebble Mine on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: No more delays — finalize protections for Bristol Bay

How many times do we have to say NO to a bad project that would harm Alaskans?

Peter Asmus (Photo provided)
Why Alaska is leading the nation on energy innovation

Alaska is a unique vantage point upon which to review the world’s current energy conundrum

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: On Alaska’s gasline, you can’t schedule opportunity

Alaska has the largest source of stranded conventional gas (no drilling required) in North America

Charlie Pierce stands in his home on Thursday, March 11, 2022, in Sterling, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: When politics get dirty

So, let me step out front and dispel the already debunked false narratives …

Most Read