So, my supervisor didn't get the judge's job, despite being the highest ranked candidate. Total crap. Those who think that only prosecutors should be on the bench are celebrating I am sure. It was a completely political decision. The Judicial Council, through an extensive process, ranked him as the most qualified. But, the Republican Governor, in a surprise move (sarcasm noted)appointed a former prosecutor who was ranked lower. Now that judge is essentially installed for life. In a few years she will be required to stand for retention, where no one is allowed to run against her. Unless she turns out be a serial killer or something, she will almost certainly be retained. The "justice" system is absurd. I am often asked why I don't write more about my job. About the players here. There are several reasons. First, I think it would be unprofessional. Second, outside of the local players who would care that I think "X" judge screwed me or "Y" prosecutor was unreasonable? Third, I'm not sure I could control my temper. I have decided to make a life here and it is a very small legal community. I know for a fact that judges, DA's, court clerks and defense counsel read this blog. I'll reserve my passion for the bigger issues rather than discussing the nuances of the practice of law on the Kenai Peninsula. Believe me, there is much I could write about. But you will never see anyone named here. I will never complain about individual issues but only the bigger issues, like the DA overcharging or judges generally caring more about power than the rights of the people. Which I am so disappointed that Governor Palin rejected a person whose legacy as a judge would have been a people more free. I guess only DA's make good judges. Only those who spend their lives prosecuting and imprisoning are capable of preserving the rights of the people. Sad. I guess I'll just work in my garden and try not to think about what is happening to this country.


Anonymous said…
Sorry about that. But, let’s face it, there are quite a few ex-AK PDs or OPA people serving as judges in Alaska. Of course the decision that the governor made was a political decision. What matters, I think is whether the judicial counsel is strong enough to present the governor with a slate of candidates that is devoid of political hacks.
Anonymous said…
Not only are there a number of ex-defense attorneys as judges in Alaska, there are also a number of very liberal ex-prosecutors as judges who turn out to be just as good. It is a question of the individual not a question of generality.

I agree that the judicial selection process is too political but it is a problem that is nationwide and certainly not unique to Alaska. However, criticizing judges before they are able to show how they will be as judges is not productive and I would argue only compounds the problem.

If you think more ex-defense attorneys should be judges, maybe you should start convincing more to run. Personally, I feel that the best experience for a judge to have would be to have both prosecution and defense training---although from personal experience, I know that a number of the current public defenders would disagree. I don't think you can best defend, prosecute, or judge an individual until you see the situation from both sides.
Anon #2, I have not, and did not, criticize the new judge. I agree I have no idea how she will be as a judge. And I also think that one does not need to be a PD to be a great judge. One does, however, need to at least understand the rights of the People. The duty of the Court is to preserve those rights. The new judge may be fantastic. But the process used to pick her sucks ass. The most qualifed person didn't the job for political reasons. And that is just wrong.
Anonymous said…
Just because he got the highest ranking does not mean he's the most qualified. People apply their political agendas when they rate prospective candidates.

And are you suggesting that former DAs and/or civil attorneys don't understand the "rights of the people?" Liberals get a bad name by claiming ownership on liberty--for the same reason conservatives get a bad name for claiming ownership of family values.

I think another problem with the "system" is that too many young attorneys feel they have a right to challenge it without coming up with a better solution. If you want to whine, why don't you do something productive and offer us an alternative. Get on the legislature or on the bar association. You have no right to complain unless you are willing to work for a change. Stop blogging and start campaigning. said…
You've got to be kidding me if you believe 'But the process used to pick her sucks ass.' I'd recommend you take a look at this State's short history. Alaska uses what is called the 'Missouri Plan' and compared to other systems (I'm instantly reminded of Churchill's commentary on democracy and will poorly paraphrase it here - it sucks but it's better than the alternatives) it is fair, democratic and transparent.

A better man than I, Alaska State Constitutional Delegate (and judge) McLaughlin said:

"I might also point out that one of the dangers of the elective system is the fact that a judge, whenever he makes a decision, he has to keep peering over his shoulder to find out whether it is popular or unpopular. If we determine the validity of our laws in terms of popularity as the general acceptance, we are then not a government of laws on which we pride ourselves. It is not the function of the judge to make the law, it is his function to determine it; and the way to keep them independent is to keep them out of politics."

PDA in AK, would you rather have Alaska have direct elections (either partisan or non-partisan), election by the state legislature, or appointment by the governor with advice and consent of the state senate? I sure as hell wouldn't want those other systems. Interjecting rampant politicism into one of the most important aspects of the law is not wise.

Judge McLaughling was right, way back in 1955 up in Fairbanks, that "What we are trying to prevent are some of the travesties which have existed in some of the states where our judges are picked and plucked directly from the ward political office."
To both Anon and Operator 101, I think all the current systems suck ass. The Missouri system is really just a way of installing judges for life, per the federal system. I am going to blog about my thoughts, which are directly stolen from another lawyer and I cannot take any credit for. Anon...I have a better solution. And I think my time is better spent blogging than campaigning the legislature. By blogging, I am "campaigning". I get people reading my thoughts and others write their thoughts and thus a discussion is born. Next time I am going to write about how I think judges should be picked.

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