Alaska Supreme Court
|Alaska Supreme Court|
|Location:||Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
JusticesThe current justices of the court are:
|Chief justice Dana Fabe||1996-2020||Gov. Tony Knowles|
|Justice Daniel Winfree||2008-2022||Gov. Sarah Palin|
|Justice Joel Bolger||2013-2016||Gov. Sean Parnell|
|Justice Craig Stowers||2009-2014||Gov. Sean Parnell|
|Justice Peter J. Maassen||2012-2016||Gov. Sean Parnell|
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review the decisions reached by lower courts within the state. The Court is required to accept appeals from previous decisions made by any Alaska Superior Court judge regarding civil issues, and including cases that originated in administrative agencies. The court has the option to hear appeals for criminal cases or petitions. In order for a criminal appeal to be heard, the appropriate appeals court must certify that the case involves a significant question of constitutional law, or it must be an issue of substantial public interest. The Supreme Court can choose whether or not to accept petitions of hearing from the lower courts on civil or criminal matters. The court may also review non-final decisions by the superior court in both civil and criminal cases. The court also hears other matters including bar admission, attorney discipline and state law questions raised in United States federal courts. The Court also has a supervisory role over the other courts in the state and is charged with making rules governing administration, practice and procedure in all courts. The court hears cases on a monthly basis in Anchorage, approximately quarterly in Fairbanks and Juneau, and as needed in other Alaska communities. The court prefers to hear argument in the city where the case was heard in the trial court.
- See also: Judicial selection in Alaska
Alaska's supreme court justices are chosen using the Commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection. The Alaska Judicial Council forwards a list of its nominees to the governor, who must choose a name from the list within 45 days to fill any vacancy. Justices serve 10-year terms on the court. Appointed justices are then subject to a retention election at the state's first general election that is more than 3 years after the appointment. After that, the five justices are subject to a retention elections every ten years.
To be considered a candidate of the Supreme Court, the person must:
- Be a citizen of the United States.
- Be a resident of Alaska for at least five years prior to the time of appointment.
- Be licensed to practice law in Alaska at the time of appointment.
- Be actively engaged in law practice for eight years prior to the appointment.
Removal of justices
Justices can be removed in one of two ways:
- They may be suspended, removed from office, or censured by the Supreme Court upon the recommendation of the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct.
- They may be impeached by two thirds of the Alaska Senate and subsequently convicted by two thirds of the House of Representatives.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Alaska was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Alaska received a score of -0.11. Based on the justices selected, Alaska was the 21st most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
- News: Alaska high court steps in on DUI case, January 25, 2010
- News: Alaska Supreme Court blocks attempt to secede, January 20, 2010
- News: Alaska Supreme Court delivers ruling against Wasilla hospital, March 3, 2010
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Alaska earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
History of the court
The Alaska Supreme Court was first established five years after admission into the union in 1965. Before this all court cases were handled by district courts with appeals being directed to the United States federal courts. Since 1965 the court has been served by nineteen justices. The main seat of the court is in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Boney Courthouse, which is named after a former justice of the court, George Boney, who served on the court from December 1968-August 1972.
- Justice Dana Fabe was both the first woman to be appointed to serve on the court, as well as the court's first female Chief Justice.
- Alaska Court System
- Alaska Bar Association
- Alaska Case Law Service
- Alaska 2008 judicial retention information (PDF). Scroll to pages 78-84.
- Gavel to Gavel a website broadcasts most oral arguments before the Alaska Supreme Court.
- Anchorage Daily News, "CIRI wins big with Alaska Supreme Court decision," February 11, 2012
- Petroleum News, "Alaska Supreme Court to hear Point Thomson dispute," January 22, 2012
- Supreme Court Jurisdiction
- The Alaska Court System: Supreme Court
- Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Alaska Court System, Fiscal Year 2012, Annual Report & Statistics
- Alaska Court System, Fiscal Year 2011, Annual Report & Statistics
- Alaska Court System, Fiscal Year 2010, Annual Report & Statistics
- Alaska Court System, Fiscal Year 2009, Annual Report & Statistics
- Alaska Court System, Fiscal Year 2008, Annual Report & Statistics
- Alaska Court System, Fiscal Year 2007, Annual Report & Statistics
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- The Alaska Court System: Supreme Court
| Daniel Winfree, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Retention |
2012 General election results
- See also: Alaska judicial elections, 2012
| Dana Fabe, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Retention |
2010 General election results
- Click here for 2010 General Election Results from the Alaska Secretary of State.
- Main article: Alaska Judges up for Retention Election in 2010
- See also: Alaska judicial elections, 2010
| Walter Carpeneti, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Retention |
2002 General election results
- Click here for 2002 General Election Results from the Alaska Secretary of State.
|Buell Nesbett||August 1959 - March 1970|
|John Dimond||August 1959 - December 1971|
|Walter Hodge||August 1959 - February 1960|
|Harry Arend||May 1960 - January 1965|
|Jay Rabinowitz||February 1965 - February 1997|
|Roger G. Connor||December 1968 - May 1983|
|George F. Boney||December 1968 - August 1972|
|Robert C. Erwin||August 1970 - April 1977|
|Robert Boochever||March 1972 - October 1980|
|James M. Fitzgerald||December 1972 - March 1975|
|Edmond W. Burke||March 1975 - December 1993|
|Warren Matthews||May 1977 - April 2009|
|Allen T. Compton||December 1980 - November 1998|
|Daniel A. Moore, Jr.||July 1983 - December 1995|
|Robert Eastaugh||April 1994 - November 2009|
|Dana Fabe||January 1996 -|
|Alexander O. Bryner||February 1997 - October 2007|
|Walter Carpeneti||November 1998 - January 2013|
|Daniel Winfree||January 2008 -|
|Former||Jay Rabinowitz • Warren Matthews • Robert Eastaugh • Walter Carpeneti • Buell Nesbett • John Dimond • Walter Hodge • Harry Arend • James Martin Fitzgerald • Morgan Christen • Robert Boochever •|