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John Sedwick

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John Sedwick
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Alaska
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #3
Appointed by:   George H.W. Bush
Active:   10/9/1992-3/13/2011
Chief:   2002-2009
Senior:   3/13/2011-Present
Preceded by:   Andrew Kleinfeld
Succeeded by:   Sharon L. Gleason
Personal History
Born:   1946
Hometown:   Kittanning, PA
Undergraduate:   Dartmouth College, 1968
Law School:   Harvard Law School, 1972
Military service:   U.S. Air Force Sergeant, 1969-1971

John W. Sedwick is a federal judge serving on senior status for the United States District Court for the District of Alaska. He joined the court in 1992 after being nominated by President George H.W. Bush. He served as chief judge of the court from 2002 to 2009. He assumed senior status on March 13, 2011.[1]

Early life and education

A native Pennsylvanian, Sedwick graduated from Dartmouth College with his bachelor's degree in 1968 and later graduated from Harvard Law School with his Juris Doctor in 1972.

Military service

Sedwick also served as a active duty U.S. Air Force Sergeant from 1969 to 1971.[1]

Professional career

Sedwick served the majority of his legal career as a private practice attorney licensed in the State of Alaska from 1972 to 1981 and again from 1982 to 1992. From 1981 to 1982, Sedwick served as the Director of the Division of Land and Water Management for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.[1]

Judicial career

District of Alaska

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, Sedwick was nominated by President George H.W. Bush on July 2, 1992, to a seat vacated by Andrew Kleinfeld after Klienfield was elevated to the Ninth Circuit. Sedwick was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 8, 1992 on unanimous consent and received his commission on October 9, 1992.[2] Sedwick served as the chief judge of the court from 2002 to 2009.[1]

Notable cases

Arizona recognition of out of state same-sex marriage (2014)

     United States District Court for the District of Arizona (Majors v. Jeanes, 2:14-cv-00518 JWS)

Judge John Sedwick, acting as a visiting judge for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, was the presiding judge in the case of Majors v. Jeanes. The case involved the State of Arizona and Fred McQuire and his same-sex partner George Martinez, who were married in California. After Martinez's death, Fred McQuire wished their California marriage to be recognized on an Arizona death certificate. On September 12, 2014, Judge Sedwick ordered Arizona to recognize the marriage of McQuire and the late Martinez and to issue a death certificate with McQuire listed as the spouse. The defense's argument against issuing the death certificate was that Arizona's law defining marriage as between one man and one woman was not intended to discriminate against same-sex marriages. The judge ruled that the law did discriminate, making the defense's argument invalid.The judge opted to apply his ruling only to this case.[3]

Alaska House of Representative corruption case (2010)

     United States District Court for the District of Alaska (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. PETER KOTT, No. CR-07-00056-JWS)

Judge Sedwick was the judge in the corruption trial of two former members of the Alaska House of Representatives who were convicted of corruption and bribery in office.[4] Sedwick ruled on the question of whether former State Representatives Pete Kott and Vic Kohring should be re-tried, as their lawyers argued that prosecutors had failed to disclose gifts received from the same federal contractors that were responsible in reversing the conviction of US Senator Ted Stevens in 2008. Despite an appeal filed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the policy of the Ninth Circuit requires that Judge Sedwick must rule to grant a new trial before the appeals court can hear any oral arguments.[4] On January 13, 2010, Judge Sedwick ruled that he would not grant a new trial to Alaska House Speaker Pete Kott.[5]

Hinger v. Carpeneti (2009)

     United States District Court for the District of Alaska (Hinger v. Carpeneti, 3:09-cv-00136-JWS)

Hinger v. Carpeneti was a federal lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the judicial selection process in Alaska. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska on July 2, 2009. The complaint said that Alaska's judicial selection system, which is a variant of the Missouri Plan, gives disproportionate influence to attorneys and, in so doing, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, and 42 USC § 1983.[6][7] Judge Sedwick dismissed the suit.[8][9]

In the dismissal, Sedwick wrote:

Alaska’s founders, when considering the selection of the members of the Judicial Council at the Constitutional Convention, discussed these tensions and resolved the debate in favor of the expertise that attorneys could bring to the process. The Equal Protection Clause, as long interpreted by the federal courts, does not preclude Alaska from making that choice.[10][11]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Andrew Kleinfeld
District of Alaska
Seat #3
Succeeded by:
Sharon L. Gleason