About Us

We are a nonpartisan group of Alaskans from across the political, ideological, and religious spectrum who believe justice should not be for sale, judges should be selected on the basis of their merit, and the framers of the Alaska Constitution got it right by keeping politics out of the courtroom.

We are proud of the quality of judges who serve on Alaska’s courts and believe Alaskans are best served if we retain highly qualified judges whose decisions follow the law and do not confuse what is popular for what the law demands. We know that if special interest groups can remove any judge simply because they do not like that judge’s decision, Alaskans will have lost the level playing field that courts are meant to provide to ensure equal justice for all under the law.

Board Members

Tom Amodio

Treasurer


As a lawyer often involved in election disputes, I understand more than most the difference between strongly-held political views and the demands of the rule of law. They are quite different, yet many would have us confuse them, suggesting that politics should overrule the law and facts of a given case. To me, this approach makes judges beholden those with political power, not the oath they take to uphold the law.

Elaine Andrews

Co-Chair


If Alaskans want judges who are as strong and independent as the Alaskans they serve, then they have an obligation to recognize the threat that special interests can have on fair and impartial courts. I want to be judged by judges who have the courage to apply the law.

Bruce Botelho

As a lifelong Alaskan, I am proud that Alaska’s judges embody the highest principles of their calling.  Alaskans benefit from judges who are fair, impartial and independent, and who look only to the law for guidance in their decision-making, without regard to political winds or ideological pressures from any direction.

Walter (Bud) Carpeneti

Chief Justice, Alaska Supreme Court (Ret.)


Alaskans expect judges to decide cases based on the law, not on political agendas or personal beliefs. The merit system for selecting judges — created by our Alaska Constitution — produces judges who meet those expectations: fair judges who follow the law in deciding cases.

Donna Goldsmith

Co-Chair


My work as an attorney sometimes took me across the country, and I came to greatly appreciate Alaska’s merit system for selecting – and retaining – judges. It has ensured Alaskans that our judges remain focused on making decisions that are based on the law, without fear of reprisal from political or special interests. Alaskans deserve independent, fair judges who follow the law regardless of pressure to do otherwise.

Barb Hood

As a retired lawyer and former businesswoman, I recognize the vital importance of courts that honor our basic rights and freedoms, however controversial. Unlike political fortunes, which change constantly, the fundamental principles that courts uphold must survive political storms or be rendered meaningless. Judges who defend these principles in the face of public clamor should be supported, not lose their jobs.”

Erin Jackson-Hill

My mother worked in the court system, and through her, I learned a lot about the Alaska court system. As an adult, I came to appreciate the quality of the judges who serve on our courts. Our Constitution ensures that our judges are independent from political pressures and partisan ideals. Independent judges assure us that cases will be decided fairly and according to the law. As a lifelong Alaskan, I want to protect judicial independence, which will protect the future of Alaska and our way of life

Niesje Steinkruger

Secretary


After serving as a judge in Alaska for 31 years I recently realized that I know little to nothing about my fellow judges’ personal political beliefs or values. When judges are doing their work they decide their cases based only upon the evidence before them and the law. They are not beholden to any special interest groups or personal beliefs, and they don’t decide cases based upon current public opinion or whoever yells the loudest. This is as it should be, and it takes courage not to give in to public pressure. Alaskans deserve the fair and impartial system that we have for nominating, evaluating, and retaining our judges. We must protect the independence of our judges and keep political pressures out of our courtrooms.

Debra (Dzijuksuk) O'Gara

Having provided legal and judicial services in three states and fourteen tribes for the past 31 years, I firmly believe people expect to be treated fairly and without bias when they enter a justice system, whether it is civil or criminal, no matter if it is tribal, state or federal. Judges have the job of ensuring the law is impartially applied without any outside personal or political influence and that the most just outcome is rendered. Alaska’s current nomination, selection and evaluation system accomplishes just that. Independent, fair and qualified judges get the job done.

Chuck Kopp

As a retired career Alaska police officer and chief of police, I believe we must protect the fairness and independence of our state judges from extreme partisan “winner takes all” views that are destroying our democracy. Alaskans are best served by judges who are fair and independent and who make decisions based on the law, not based on special interests.

As a former member of the Alaska Judicial Council, I know we can count on the non-partisan citizen council to thoroughly examine how judges perform their duties. I have confidence in the Judicial Council’s recommendations on judges. Monied special interests should not determine who sits on our courts.

James E. Torgerson

I feel fortunate to live and practice law in a state whose Founders valued fair and impartial courts. They required that judges be selected for their merit, not who they knew or how much money they could raise. I want future Alaskans to have that same good fortune: courts that are fair, just, and impartial.

Alaskans for Fair Courts
  • Donna Goldsmith, Co-Chair

  • Elaine Andrews, Co-Chair

  • Tom Amodio, Treasurer

  • Niesje Steinkruger, Secretary

  • Bruce Botelho, Board Member

  • Barb Hood, Board Member

  • Bud Carpeneti, Board Member

  • Debra O’Gara, Board Member

  • Erin Jackson-Hill, Board Member

  • Chuck Kopp, Board Member

  • James E. Torgerson, Board Member

Supporters
  • Alaska League of Women Voters

  • Cindy Audet

  • Tom Begich

  • John Binkley

  • Nicole Borromeo

  • Diane Brown

  • Hal Brown

  • Kay Brown

  • Molly Brown

  • Ray R. Brown

  • Rachel Cella

  • James Clark

  • Charlie Cole

  • Dawn Collinsworth

  • Matt Cooper

  • Valerie Davidson

  • Kate Demarest

  • Heidi Drygas

  • Bryce Edgmon

  • Johnny Ellis

  • Vic Fischer

  • Berta Gardner

  • Rene J. Gonzalez

  • Ana Hoffman

  • Luke Hopkins

  • Michael Hostina

  • Karen Hunt

  • Jennifer Johnston

  • Wilson Justin

  • Tony Knowles

  • Chuck Kopp

  • Mim McConnell

  • Louis Menendez

  • Jo Michalski

  • Megan Moody

  • Tom Nave

  • Larry Persily

  • Richard Peterson

  • John Pugh

  • Margaret Pugh

  • Greg Razo

  • Deborah O’Regan

  • Ron Otte

  • Vickie Otte

  • Ted Parsons

  • Stephanie Rhoades

  • Judy Salo

  • Jim Sampson

  • Bruce Scandling

  • Laury Scandling

  • Gail Schubert

  • Aaron Schutt

  • Brian Shortell

  • Gary Stevens

  • Sen Tan

  • Fran Ulmer

  • Bill Walker

  • Larry Weeks

  • Kara Wesebaum

  • Nadine Winters

  • Mark I. Wood

  • Rosita Worl